Enzo Maresca

‘An Important Game, An Important Opponent’ – Maresca On Preston

Enzo Maresca says his Leicester City side remain on a constant learning journey as the Sky Bet Championship season progresses.
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Offering his pre-Preston North End thoughts, with the Foxes set to host the Lancashire club at King Power Stadium on Wednesday (7:45pm BST kick-off), Maresca spoke to journalists about the start his side have made and how they plan to attack their latest assignment.

A difficult test on home soil

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Ryan Lowe

Wednesday’s opposing manager, Ryan Lowe, has the Lilywhites in excellent form.

City must be wary of both sides of North End’s game, with a solid defensive rear-guard to get past at one end, and also plot to stop a side that have only failed to score in one Championship outing so far this term. Ryan Lowe's side sit third in the standings.

“They are a team who defend very well,” the Italian said, during his press conference on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of the Filbert Way fixture. “They defend with a 5-4-1 - a line of five and four, nine players always, and also the striker helps a lot.

“It will be a game where we need to be patient and think that we can win the game in the last half an hour or 20 minutes, because it won’t be easy. They will be there defending all together, so we need to be patient and continue.

“They also attack very good. They move the ball, they try to switch the play many times. They have won many games already, and they have started very well, fantastic. It is probably the club or the team with Ipswich who have started perfectly.”

With the Blue Army’s backing, however, Maresca is confident that both Wednesday night and Saturday’s subsequent home fixture against Stoke City can be fruitful ones for the Foxes.

“Finally, two games in a row, he added. “In the last five games we played four away, so it will be good to be with our fans at home. I said after the Blackburn game, this especially is an important game against an important opponent in this moment. We need them to support us from the beginning to the end, just like they have done always.

“For sure it will be tough. I don’t know if it will be the toughest test. For sure, 100 per cent, the toughest test for us was Blackburn, as I said after the game. Now tomorrow’s game is big for sure.”

Early days

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Leicester City

Sunday’s win at Ewood Park took Maresca’ men to 24 points after nine games.

Overseeing a summer overhaul of the squad, Maresca has been commended for the way he’s moulded the side together so quickly, picking up many positive results in the process to sit at the league’s summit. There is still such a long season ahead, he warned, and is not allowing anyone to get carried away with the current position.

“We belonged in the Championship before the season started,” the 43-year-old explained. “After nine games, it’s difficult to say only because we’re now first in the league that we’re going to be promoted, but we cannot manage different people, we cannot control them. Everyone is free to say what they think.

“This is a club who just three months ago were relegated. We changed more than 50 per cent of the squad. Part of the 50 per cent of the squad who stayed here are players who last year were not involved. We changed many, many things.

“It’s early days. It’s two or three months in that we speak. I always try to be open and honest. Seven points in October is nothing, it’s three games, but it’s much better to have seven points more than seven points less, for sure.”

Adjusting to change

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Wilfred Ndidi

In recovery mode ahead of welcoming Preston to Filbert Way.

The differing styles in the Championship have presented many tasks to overcome across the opening two months of the season. Maresca’s own ideas have been implemented with much success and there will be no diversion from this, he assured.

“It’s dynamic competition because many managers play with different things,” the former Manchester City coach commented. “Every game, there is something you can add to your experience, and you can learn. Some teams decide to defend deep, some press higher. It’s a journey that, game by game, we are learning.

“[The idea] is the main part for sure, 100 per cent. We tried to give them some concepts in the way we want to play, but in the end, the players go out on the pitch and try to do it. You can tell them anything you want, but you need to convince them.

“Since day one, until today, they are giving 100 per cent in this aspect to be open minded and learn. We are trying to teach them the idea and they are also enjoying it because in the end the result helps a lot.

“But also you play football because you want to play with the ball. The more you have it, the more you enjoy as a player. We try to keep the ball first of all, because we want to win the game.

“Sometimes we need to run in behind like at Blackburn. They showed patience, they showed sacrifice and that was very good. Don’t worry if there’s mistakes, do what we have to do.

“It doesn’t matter because the mistake is part of the process. We’ve made some mistakes, and we’ll make them in the following games, but it’s the way we believe, and we’ll continue that.”

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