A look at the next Celtic manager market reveals an array of high-profile names at both ends of the managerial spectrum.
On one hand we have the experienced and successful Rafa Benitez, Eddie Howe who at 43 has already accrued over 500 matches in the dugout, Steve Clarke also features, as does Roberto Martinez; the latter two are both currently employed at international level.
Celtic could be tempted to give a young, hungry manager the chance to shine - as Rangers did with Steven Gerrard - with Frank Lampard hotly linked, while Jack Ross has also been touted.
If you glance a little bit further down the betting you’ll come across a name who some of you may be unfamiliar with: Enzo Maresca.
Below we take a look at the 41-year-old Italian who is currently priced at 20/1 (Bet Victor) to be the man to succeed Neil Lennon at Celtic.
What’s his background?
As a player Maresca was an energetic and technical midfielder who spent two seasons at West Brom under manager Denis Smith then Brian Little, before returning to his homeland with Italian giants Juventus, where he made headlines for this cheeky bull celebration against their rivals Torino, after he scored a powerful late header.
He was unable to nail down a concrete starting place but still managed to add a Serie A title and Supercoppa Italiana to his CV. He went on to feature for the likes of Fiorentina, Sevilla - where he won two UEFA Cups, the Copa del Rey, Supercopa de España and UEFA Super Cup - Olympiacos, Malaga, and Sampdoria.
What about as a coach?
Maresca achieved his Uefa Pro License at Coverciano, the famous Italian managerial school.
While he was working hard for his coaching badges, he was the assistant manager at Serie B side Ascoli, a position he went on to hold at Sevilla before he took up the role of technical coach at the Spanish club.
Over in England, in 2018 Maresca became assistant manager under his former Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham; a post he oversaw for 18 months.
During his time at the London Stadium, it was revealed that Pellegrini had allowed Maresca to prepare the team tactically for a match against London rivals Chelsea, which they won; this drew parallels with the time Pep Guardiola famously put Mikel Arteta in charge for Man City’s victory over Arsenal back in 2016/17.
Pellegrini was sacked shortly after, and while Maresca was linked with the top job, it was David Moyes who returned for a second spell.
Since August he’s been head of Man City’s Elite Development Squad, a job which Patrick Vieira previously held between 2013 and 2016, before he moved into management with New York City and Nice.
Enzo Maresca has thrived in his role as manager of Man City's elite Development Squad
What are his strengths?
Having honed his skills in Spain, Italy and England Maresca has built a reputation as a highly-respected, analytical young coach who, as mentioned above, is an astute tactician.
"For me in the last four or five years as a player I was already thinking to become a coach in the future," Maresca told MEN. “Coaching is all about the game, tactical, technical, preparation, analysing the opponent, analysing how we can try to beat them, how to find a way to improve our players and team.”
Since joining Man City Maresca has stayed loyal to Pep Guardiola’s staples of attacking, progressive and possession-based football.
Working in such close proximity to an elite manager means Maresca has undoubtedly picked up some golden managerial nuggets from the Spaniard.
His position as Elite Development Squad manager means he plays a pivotal role in creating an environment which allows young talent to thrive. His young guns are currently enjoying a nine game unbeaten run at the summit of the Premier League 2 table; producing a number of eye-catching displays including a 7-2 thrashing of then leaders Liverpool and a 6-1 demolition of Leicester City.
Man City are determined to pluck more talents out of their development squad, with goal-machine Liam Delap featuring a couple of times for the first team this season, as has Tommy Doyle.
“My main target and duty is to help all the guys to improve and grow in the right way professionally,” Maresca said upon his appointment. “This is my main target – just to try to help them develop and grow. One of my first ideas is to try to improve them as single players and as a team.”
A move to Celtic could potentially open up an avenue for talented young players to make the trip up to Parkhead, as we’ve seen with Steven Gerrard at Rangers; who on the occasion has utilised his Liverpool connection to snap up the likes of Ryan Kent and Andy Firth.
It’s always difficult to properly dissect someone’s full credentials when they’ve yet to step foot into the senior managerial arena.
Making the leap from assistant to manager or youth team manager to senior manager is a big one, often fraught with complexities as you have to manage all kinds of situations on a daily basis.
Parkhead can be an intimidating environment for any young upcoming manager, especially someone who has yet to manage outright, so from that perspective an appointment would be viewed as a big risk. But, potentially one that could instigate a new youth-focused era at the club.