Guardiola made the right decision by choosing Bayern
Posted on January 16, 2013 5:14 pm
It was a big surprise. Most “insiders” assumed that Pep Guardiola would land in the Premier League next season. Manchester City seemed the most logical destination. Suddenly, he signed with Bayern Munich. It must have been a meditated decision, as most of what the coach has taken in his career and, at least in the surface, has certain logic to it.
In principle, because what steered Guardiola away from the game was the media circus and the partisanship of the press and Spanish fans. The constant tug of war with Mourinho and “his” journalists. The cheap shots and the low blows. In that sense, England, even without being the battlefield that Spain is, has probably the less ethical press in Europe (also the most ethical, but that’s another story) while, except for Bild, which is essentially pro- Bayern, German journalists do not usually mess with the private lives of footballers and managers.
In addition, assuming the Bayern’s helm, he does not risk encountering Mourinho in the near future. Not because he was afraid of the Portuguese coach but because his mind games proved exhausting for Guardiola and undoubtedly one of the factors that weighed in making the decision had to do with working in a low pressure environment.
Of course, Bayern are far from a small side, and they carry the same stress and fans’ demand for immediate results as Madrid or Barça but in terms of success and following, they occupy a throne that doesn’t have too many suitors. True, Borussia Dortmund took center stage last season, but this year the Bavarians have dominated the Bundesliga with absolute confidence so Pep’s top priority will be the 2013/2014 edition of the Champions League.
What should be clear is that the coach from Santpedor will be judged by his results, but also the way he gets them. The Bavarian fans are used to winning, but Guardiola ‘s name evocates dreams of reviving at the Allianz Arena what they personally suffered when their team traveled to the Camp Nou. In Munich they want victories but also fantasy and spectacle. They want goals, but those that are forever remembered.
Could Pep replicate in Munich what he did in Barcelona? In an interview with FIFA.com that hasn’t yet been published but, with this decision, will become an even more essential read, the coach told my workmate Alejandro Varsky that the philosophy of Barcelona is only to pass the ball to an unmarked teammate and not lose it. In practice, of course, it’s way more complicated than that, -Juan Manuel Lillo, his mentor, said to me “it’s not simple, because nothing in life is simple” – and means to get the right players to pass the ball (even in the most difficult circumstances) to an unmarked teammate (even with the best defenders of the world behind them) and not to lose it (even if they are surrounded by four opponents).
Barca’s DNA was constructed by generation after generation learning the same system from the earliest age. Guardiola will not find that at Bayern, so he will need to be astute in the transfer market and intelligent in detecting the youth players that can immediately deliver to the team. In the first part the coach was far from flawless in his Barça stint, but it was his ability in the second which catapulted him to become one of the greatest in just a few years.
In Munich he will have much young talent to work with. Neuer has potential to be the best goalkeeper in the world. Alaba is in the top 3 of left backs, if not the top 1. Kroos, Müller and Martinez and are extraordinarily talented midfielders. Mandzukic has been one of the greatest surprises of the European season and Mario Gomez is returning from injury. The material is there, now Guardiola has to be able to accommodate it to bend it like Barça. It will be, perhaps, more difficult than it sounds but, can anyone doubt one the best coaches in the world in the last five years? I wouldn’t dare.