They say ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’
Any subscribers to this logic will surely be perplexed at Bayern Munich’s decision to announce – halfway through an already successful season – that Pep Guardiola will replace Jupp Heynckes as their boss at the end of the current campaign.
After all, Bayern have an unassailable 20 point lead in the Bundesliga, are safely into semi-finals of the German Cup, and have secured their passage into the quarter finals of the Champions League.
The current incumbent, Jupp Heynckes, recently expressed his desire to lead the team for one more season before retiring. So why then, when it is well within the realms of possibility that the team could achieve a historic treble, have the powers that be at Bayern confirmed that Guardiola will be appointed as manager next season when there are three trophies still to fight for this season?
Well Heynckes, in his second tenure at the club – he won back to back titles with Bayern in 1989 and 1990 – has won nothing since he returned to the club two seasons ago. This will almost certainly change this season but still, one can only speculate that the severe psychological wounds – inflicted on the club as a result of their dramatic collapse in last season’s finale – are still very raw. Not only were they ruthlessly exposed domestically by Borussia Dortmund, in the Bundesliga title race and a 5-2 defeat in the German Cup Final, they also suffered an ignominious defeat at their Allianz Arena home by Chelsea in the Champions League Final. Consequently, the hurried announcement of Guardiola as the new manager is a statement of intent, released from a position of already considerable power, to warn their rivals that Bayern will not be susceptible to a similar collapse, this season or in the future.
However, many people were surprised that the much vaunted Guardiola had chosen Bayern as his next footballing vocation, as the popular consensus seemed to be that his next destination would be the English Premier League. Especially when two of his major suitors, Chelsea and Manchester City, can offer the sort of sums more akin to a country’s national debt than a manager’s annual salary.
Money though, will never be a mistress of the man from Santpedor. Instead he is seduced by the stature of Bayern Munich who, much like his beloved Barca, resemble more than merely a football club. Bayern are a worldwide institution who, despite their global following, remain a sanctum of the community, a source of hope and pride for the local population.
The parallels between Barcelona and Bayern Munich are so conspicuous they are impossible to ignore; a long established and illustrious youth system, fanatical fan following and a solid, hierarchical structure with many ex-players intimately involved in oiling the machine.
More importantly, Bayern have players fit for battle who sweat blood for the cause, capable of cavalier attacking football yet showing a commitment to defensive discipline which is indicative of their devotion.
They have conceded only a miserly 10 goals in 26 league fixtures in a season which could see them smash the Bundelsliga records for; quickest winners, highest points total, most wins, clean sheets and goals scored in consecutive games – a goal in each of their last 38 league fixtures.
This has seduced the Catalans’ favourite son who will bid again to captivate the beautiful game, and set in motion the wheels of another football revolution to make Bayern Munich the pre-eminent force in the sport.
Nothing is broken at Bayern.
But you can bet that Guardiola will find something to fix when he sweeps to power at the Allianz Arena, ushering in a new and exciting era not only for the Munich club but for “The whole of the Bundesliga” as Munich president, Uli Hoeness, stated succinctly.
So football fans, to lend a phrase Guardiola himself used upon his inception as Barcelona boss, “fasten your seatbelts, you are going to enjoy the ride”.