Enzo Maresca: Chelsea must reconnect with fans

New Chelsea manager Enzo Maresca believes it's crucial to work on the club's culture after two difficult years in the Premier League.

In his first interview since being appointed to replace Mauricio Pochettino, the former Leicester boss said it was "clear" that there is work to be done to rebuild the connection between the club and their supporters as he seeks to install a "winning mentality" in a side which has finished 12th and sixth in its last two campaigns.

The Italian was appointed in June, two weeks after Pochettino left by mutual consent having failed to reach agreement with the club's hierarchy over the scope of his responsibility for football matters at Stamford Bridge.

His work in returning Leicester to the top flight at the first attempt impressed Chelsea during an extensive search to replace Pochettino, with Maresca's winning mentality understood to have been a key factor in his appointment as well as positive feedback from young players who had previously worked with him.

"When you join a club you try to analyse what the club and the team needs to improve, to do the right things," the 44-year-old told the club's official website.

"For me, it's quite clear we need to create as soon as possible the right mentality, the right culture. A culture that the fan can be proud of the team.

"We're going to try to be an aggressive team on the ball and off the ball. We need to create this connection between the fans and the club, especially at home.

"When you have your own fans behind the team, pushing, it's like playing with 12 players. That's what we have to create here."

Under Pochettino, and his predecessors Graham Potter and caretaker boss Frank Lampard, the atmosphere at home games was often hot with frustration as fans vented their anger at the players, the management and the wider hierarchy.

Things reached a bitter nadir during a 4-2 defeat to Wolves in February, with Pochettino later admitting he feared he was about to be sacked in the aftermath such was the intensity of the discontent that poured from the stands.

The team recovered to lose just one of their final 15 league games to qualify for the Europa Conference League, but it marked a second consecutive season under the ownership of Todd Boehly's Clearlake capital where the club had missed out on Champions League football.

"When you join a club like Chelsea, you have to know it's a club that has to win," said Maresca. "For us, we're going to try to do our best to be there, to fight and to compete with the clubs that in this moment are winning and fighting to win titles.

"One of the reasons I'm here is because I'm convinced that the squad is very good. It's full of talent, so the most important thing now is that we are able to create the right culture to drive us through the season.

"If you are able to improve players, that means you improve the team. So it's our target to try and improve all of them day by day.

"I think every manager has their own idea or style. Mine is quite clear. The last year was very good but it's already finished, now a new chapter. A new squad, a new club. Very happy to be here."

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