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Pep Guardiola’s Task of Reinventing The Wheel


Pep Guardiola is set to manage FC Bayern München from next season, the club have confirmed. Chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said:

“We are very pleased that we have succeeded in getting Pep Guardiola, who was courted by many famous clubs. Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful coaches in the world. We look forward to working with him from July 2013.”

Guardiola, who’s four years as Barca boss brought 14 trophies including three La Liga titles and two Champions League wins, replaces a man who came within a penalty shoot-out of making Bayern European champions last season. Bayern chairman Uli Hoeness said:

“We are extremely grateful for Jupp Heynckes’ work, and we would be very happy if the team would give this great coach a glorious farewell. As an adequate replacement for Jupp Heynckes only Pep Guardiola was of the right calibre.”

The news that Pep has chosen Germany over England will upset the likes of Chelsea and Man City fans, but will have millions of Bayern supporters worldwide licking their lips at the prospect of one of the world’s best managers – certainly the most sought after – managing their team.

Pep’s move, on the face of it, defines synergy in modern football. Institutionally it is the perfect place for him to try to succeed away from Barcelona. It is a match made in heaven – or Bayern – to excuse the pun. From the stunning displays seen weekly at the Allianz Arena or away to the cliched efficiently ran upper-management, everything is ran impeccably in Bayern – very similarly to Barca.

Munich have a similar structured upper-management set-up as Barca. They have recently appointed a sporting director in former player Matthias Sammer who will oversee recruitment. A similar structure was in place at Barca as Pep worked under  Txiki Begiristain until 2010. They will work in unison, looking to buy the best talent available, but with an emphasis on Germany talent if possible, just like at Barca with Catalonian/ Spanish players.

There is one major difference though, when considering the state of Bayern when he will arrive this Summer and when he took over at Barca in 2008. At Barca, they were struggling, politics and over-exuberant egos were doing their best to halt a great team making any real progress.

Ronaldinho had regressed, with many saying he had lost the love for football, spending his time partying rather than working hard for the team. He also had clashed with Eto’o, to the point it seemed one of them had to leave, and with that, only weeks into the job Pep made the boldest decision he has made to date – and sold Ronaldinho. The next 10 months Pep made history, winning the Champions League, Copa Del Ray and La Liga. He invigorated Xavi and brought on Iniesta to a level never seen before. Messi began to mature into the player we all know today. He had given Barca the shock they needed, realising their position in the world as one of the best club sides ever and one of the biggest clubs ever too.

Going to Bayern will certainly be different. There will be no in-fighting. No politics, just a cliched, well ran monster of a club. They will have at least won the Bundesliga, possessing a group willing to learn and develop from Pep’s management. He will arrive with an expectation not many incoming managers will have ever faced (maybe Mourinho at Madrid surpasses it?). To continue winning, adding style to an already stylish team.

What Pep will be expected to exactly do at Bayern, is fascinating on so many levels. In one sense you’d hire Pep to not only win you everything available, but to do it with a panache only ever seen by the current Barca team. To use a stupid metaphor I thought of, he will be expected to go in and paint the Mona Lisa, but be expected to make it that little bit better, that little bit more inspiring– not an easy task at all.

When looking at it tactically, Bayern play sumptuous, fast, attacking, and quite direct football. They generally deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation with players like Kroos playing behind Gomez or Mandžukić. Barca, as everyone knows, played a more methodical 4-3-3. Although the quality in this Bayern side is undoubted, it will be interesting to see if Pep will try change it and play a 4-3-3 or approach with some pragmatism, sticking to the 4-2-3-1.

Such decisions are ones that still hang over the head of Pep, unsurprisingly there are quite a few detractors of Pep, citing that his success was merely a bi-product of a truly momentous team which came to age when we arrived in 2008 (not to mention Messi’s obscene form since that time). Of course it seems obvious there’s a direct correlation between Barca’s success and Pep’s arrival in ’08, the team certainly seemed to reach a point where key players were ready to step up as the worlds finest. Whether the detractors of Guardiola, are in any way correct remains unlikely, but it certainly will be interesting to measure what level of pragmatism he has in his managerial locker.

Without Messi, Xavi, Iniesta etc, Pep will be somewhat out of his comfort zone at Bayern, to the extent of not having arguably the world’s best ever footballer to bail you out by scoring a ridiculous amount of goals each season! In an institutional sense the Pep and Bayern fit exceedingly well. He won’t face the ridiculous standards he’d have to keep at Chelsea under Roman for one. While at City maybe he just wanted a club with proven stability over the long-term, not to mention it’d seem he’d rather a club with  history like Bayern’s as opposed to Man City’s. He will join a team with a plethora of fine, fine footballers. Players who, it would seem, will have no problem adapting to Pep’s style if need be,  but it will still be a different there.

Looking into the future I assume Pep will be given some leeway with results in his first season, to make additions he deems necessary – especially if he does plan to alter the tactics of the team. Is an addition of an Iniesta, or even a young Thiago Alcantara, wildly off the mark to make a transition to a methodical midfield passing game that bit easier from the beginning? Although leeway will be given, as such seems to go hand in hand with a manager like that, he is  joining a club where, like Barca, success is not hoped for, but expected on a regular basis. Guardiola will not be expected to create a dynasty, but to ever so slightly make it evolve, and make that final step for Bayern to regain a spot at the top of Europe.

Last season the Bayern team watched Drogba’s penalty send the Champions League to London, in their own stadium, which certainly must  have cut particularly deep. Bayern haven’t won the Champions League since 2001 nor the Bundesliga since 2010. Although they look odds on to win Bundesliga this year and certainly have a chance of Champions League glory this season, Heynckes is 67 and his time to retire has come. Now, Pep will arrive with the expectations of most likely retaining the Bundesliga and regaining their place at the top of Europe.

The lack of German club side dominating European football is the last chalice missing in Germany’s domination of Europe. In economics they certainly stand stall, looking down among the rest of Europe. In international football they are ran superbly, with a structured scouting system created in 2001 following years of under-performing. From schoolboy levels all club and provincial sides they work symbiotically, looking to hone and develop the elite young footballers with the desire to make an international side that can consistently compete at the top for years to come. As this famous Spanish side begins to age, Germany look by far the most likely to take over that mantle. If Bayern are become the kings of Europe on a relatively consistent basis then Pep would surely be the man for the job.

Pep’s time at Bayern, although only announced hours only ago, just feels right. German football is at an all-time high for excitement. Fans play an ever-increasing role. Stadiums are rocking, while hooliganism is low – despite the drinking and standing terraces. Although I believe Pep will bring success to Bayern, it certainly won’t be without lots of hard work and even some luck.

A style developed by a Dutchman, implemented in Catalonia, and mastered by a Catalonian, now being tested in the heart of Germany. Well, this will be fun.


One comment on “Pep Guardiola’s Task of Reinventing The Wheel

  1. I agree with you on most of your points. I think Pep will do well in Germany, and i’m looking forward to this moving resulting in more attention to the German clubs.

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