Despite their ugly (yet inevitable victory) against Arsenal in the Champions League recently, Bayern Munich are having a frighteningly good season.
20 points clear of the much hyped Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, and through to the semi’s of the German Cup, treble murmurings are getting increasingly louder.
Teams in this kind of form though, invariably keep their manager the next season. And this is what interests me: Jupp Heynckes is leaving, and Pep Guardiola is arriving. The nearest thing I can compare it to, is Rafa Benitez taking over Jose Mourinho’s treble winning Inter Milan side. Benitez flopped, and badly.
It’s difficult for a manager without a project. It would arguably be better for Guardiola if Bayern didn’t win either cup, so their hunger and drive for success could spill over into next season. If they were to win a treble, many players would be forgiven for thinking, ‘job done’.
Guardiola then, must be getting increasingly nervous with every robotic Bayern win. ‘Where can I improve this team?’ he thinks. ‘How will the fans love me after Jupp’s done this?’
But perhaps a Benitez/Guardiola comparison is unfair. After all, Guardiola managed arguably the best club-side ever seen, while Benitez fluked a Champions league win with Djimi Traore in his starting XI. (Saying that, many will feel the latter is the greater accomplishment…)
There are some associations, however. Inter Milan, much like Bayern now, were a solid, machine-like team; gritty, extremely strong at the back, and riding a wave of positivy. When Benitez arrived, he felt he had to stamp an identity on the team. He chopped and changed, and was sacked at Christmas, partly thanks to the mauling handed out by Gareth Bale weeks beforehand.
Guardiola will undoubtedly feel he has to mark his philosophy on Bayern. He will keep the triumvirate of Kroos, Schweinsteiger and Martinez, as apart from his old Barcelona team; this is the best midfield in Europe. Flamboyant attackers howeverare now being linked by the dozen.
While Mandzukic spearheads Bayern, scoring goal after goal, the papers still link Ibrahimovic and Falcao. While Muller and Ribery are ruthlessly efficient from wider positions, the papers begin to add Suarez and Neymar to ‘Guardiola’s Bayern fantasy team’.
It’s dangerous, and could ruin the efficient winning-machine Bayern have created. We can look at countless examples of big money, big name signings, looking completely out of place within a tactical and team ethos. Step forward, Andrei Shevchenko…
But let’s give Guardiola some credit. Would he have taken the job if a team of superstars was created by the clubs owners? He turned down the Chelsea job after all.
It would also be foolish to suggest that there is no way players like Suarez and Ibra can improve the side.
Guardiola though, will be reminded of the old saying… If it aint broke, don’t fix it.
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March 19, 2013 at 1:53 pm
The biggest difference is that Pep would be backed 100% by the bayern management, unlike the insane inter board who took on a manager, handed him a burnt out team and expected miracles.
Pep will be given time and is surrounded by people who love the club, not money
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