Premier League English

Enzo Maresca to Chelsea is football’s newest trend: Pep Guardiola assistants get the top jobs

Keen to get into management pronto? First you need to go get a role on Guardiola’s staff.

There’s certainly no bigger tip of the hat to Pep Guardiola as an almost tangible measure of his success and reputation as probably the most venerated football coach and manager in the football industry than seeing his former assistants one-by-one automatically being hand-picked as the crème de la crème for the top jobs in the premier European football leagues ever since the Spaniard left the Bundesliga to grace the Premier League with his presence.

It appears that the sheer fact of working with him itself readily avails oneself to the top managerial or top coaching jobs available just by having spent the requisite amount of time just basking in his genius and picking up the crumbs of coaching management from the master’s table.

Enzo Maresca is the latest to exemplify the case as Chelsea’s new head coach spent the 2022-23 season as Guardiola’s assistant, and was then appointed Leicester City manager in June 2023. And just a year later, he was given a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge after the club parted ways with Mauricio Pochettino.

Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta is clearly the illuminating and boldest case-in-point as the Gunners appointed Guardiola’s erstwhile main assistant in December 2019, plucking him directly from under Guardiola’s watch, despite the former Arsenal skipper having zero managerial experience. Obviously that didn’t matter at all to the Arsenal top brass as for them it was infinitely sufficient for their next manager then to have served precious quality time under the venerable Spaniard as the main apprentice. Hence, Arteta landed his first job as a manager with the Gunners, leading to them in subsequent years breathing hard down the neck of his former guru’s squad as they lust for Premier League top glories.

With that particular appointment having proven to be so enormously successful it is little wonder then that Chelsea are hoping that Maresca will prove no less successful as Arteta at blending his own ideas with the invaluable lessons he learned from Guardiola.

Guardiola’s influence as a coach invariably spun a web that is growing larger with each passing year as the Manchester City manager’s indelible touch and tactical nous visibly transforming the world of football. Laterally, across the game, the growing impact of his prominent disciples are also now beginning to be felt.

Arteta and Maresca are not Guardiola’s only disciples who are endorsing their presence in the Premier League as Manchester United’s Erik ten Hag – albeit shining as a lesser luminary in his second season at Old Trafford – also apprenticed under Guardiola, as he was the Bayern Munich reserve team coach while Guardiola managed the senior side. Similarly, too, for Luis Enrique, the current Paris Saint-Germain manager, who had worked as the manager of Barcelona’s B team during Guardiola’s illuminating tenure at the Nou Camp.

Tito Vilanova, another one of Guardiola’s assistants at Barcelona, went on to lead the first team himself, while Domènec Torrent, yet another Guardiola assistant, managed New York City, Flamengo and Galatasaray in recent years.

Let’s also not forget those who played for Guardiola before moving into coaching themselves, the most prominent standout figure among whom is Xabi Alonso, perhaps the most exciting young manager in football. Then there’s also the definitely noteworthy Xavi Hernandez, recently departed from Barcelona, and Vincent Kompany, who swapped Burnley for Bayern with supposedly a little help from his former mentor, who had apparently mentioned to the top brass at Bayern Munich that the former City skipper was definitely a worthwhile acquisition to succeed Thomas Tuchel.

Of noteworthy interest next would be Rafa Marquez, currently in charge of Barcelona B. Former Gunner and Barcelona frontman Thierry Henry is managing France’s under-21s and under-23s, while Sylvinho helms Albania. Gabriel Milito leads the charge for Atletico Mineiro while Cesc Fabregas is busy demonstrating his coaching potential at Como.

Guardiola, although pivotal, is not the only influence at play, as there is also the overarching presence of the City Football Group as a whole. The formidable group owns clubs across the globe with their alumni having an increasingly big say on the European game.

Of note, Tottenham Hotspur’s current head coach Ange Postecoglou worked for the City Football Group when he managed Yokohama Marinos. Andoni Iraola, now at Bournemouth, played for New York City FC. Patrick Vieira worked at Manchester City and New York City before moving onto Nice, Crystal Palace and now Strasbourg.

The concentric webs spun by Guardiola and the City Football Group have grown to be increasingly hard to ignore.

This is indisputably a fitting testament attesting to the effectiveness of the City organisation, and certainly no less the brilliance of Guardiola himself, that so many clubs now want one of his disciples to help them attain success and glory at the highest levels.