The wait is over, the mastermind behind the powerful Barcelona of 2008-2012, Pep Guardiola is set to become Bayern Munich manager. The Daily Shift’s Shane Hurley tells us more…
The biggest question in football over the past six months has been answered: Who will Josep Guardiola I Sala choose to manage next after his sabbatical year in New York? Who would intice the man who won 14 out of 18 titles in just 4 years with Barcelona, in the process creating a new style of pressing, passing football. Redefining tactics and positions.
Bavarian giants Bayern Munich are the team that won the race to bring the Catalan to the Bundes Liga. The choice fits as Guardiola is part of this new generation of manager, similar to Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho, to win and test yourselve in various leagues to prove you are the best.
After club officials rubbished internet claims on Tuesday, Bayern released a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming that current coach Juup Heynckes will retire when his contract expires at the end of the current campaign and that Guardiola will step in on a three year deal. This is a huge statement of intent from Bayern, even with reaching two of the last three Champions League finals and the Bundes Liga’s profile on the rise. The former Barcelona boss was widely expected at a Premier League club next season. The side note to this story is that Chelsea’s search will go on, Mancini can breath a little easier at City and Sir Alex Ferguson might just go on a little while longer. This will also mean if Jose Mourinho as expected leaves Real Madrid and returns to England, Pep will not be facing him except in European encounters. Guardiola made it clear he did not enjoy dealings with the Portuguese during their el Classico rivalry.
So what will Guardiola be taking over? He will be inheriting a stable core of players that have grown under Hynkes, the likes of Toni Kroos, Holger Badstuber and David Alaba along with high profile additions such as Javi Martinez and Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic, a player Ireland fans should know all too well from the past Euros. Martinez was Bayerns record €40 million signing last summer and a player Guardiola tried in vain to sign twice while in charge of Barcelona. It is highly possible that Martinez, who has flourished so far in Germany, will be given an even more pivotal role under his compatriot. He will not be the clichéd “Bayern’s Xavi”. Martinez could grow from an international standard player to a world star under Guardiola’s tutelage. The one thing is, will he be the midfield puppeteer or a center half designated with starting Bayerns push from the back.
Bayerns current goal threats are in the form of Marion Gomez and Mario Mandzukic. Both large front men, something Guardiola has struggled in the past to incorporate into his tactics (see Zlatan Ibrahimovic). He will have athletic dual purpose full backs in Phillipp Lahm and Jerome Boetang that will suit his style well.
Guardiola may well inherit the German champions, Bayern currently hold a nine point advantage, but one of his tasks will also be to re-establish Bayern as the dominant force in Germany. In recent years Jurgen Klopps Dortmund have won back to back titles as well as international recognition for their style and development of Germany’s talented attackers Reuss and Gotze.
Another factor to any success or failure at Bayern will be the support or interferience from the Bavarians former players who now hold key roles at the club. Uli Hoeness, Karl Heinz Rummenigge and Franz Beckenbauer have clashed with Heynckes and other managers in the past.
Barcelona issued a statement on Monday that they would not be giving up any members of staff no matter where Guardiola landed. So Pep will have less than five months to assemble a new back room staff or lure his old one away from the Camp Nou. It is also very unlikely that Guadiola will return to his former club for players, a fact he has stressed on numerous occasions.
The language barrier may be an initial problem. Publicly Guardiola does not speak German (he is fluent in English as a second language, and passable Italian) but may have taken classes in America.
But these are the questions asked of a great manager, can you adjust your tactics to get the best from the squad you have. You have created a great team at Barcelona with great players but can you do it again, can you replicate it elsewhere with new pawns. Guardiola is smart, he has taken over a strong squad, in a good league, with money to spend and fanatical support. Will Guardiola evolve Bayern or will Bayern evolve him?