Pep Guardiola Has Succeeded At Bayern, Despite European Failings
Pep Guardiola coming to England is undoubtedly the most exciting news to come out of the Premier League this season.
When news broke on transfer deadline day that Pep would be taking over at Manchester City in the summer, City fans flocked to the bookies and whacked their hard earned cash on the Etihad outfit reclaiming the Premier League in 2016/17.
And they can’t be blamed for doing so.
Guardiola is the most wanted manager in the game and has won five league titles in two countries, as well as two Champions Leagues with Barcelona.
But for some reason, people seem to judge Pep’s reign at Bayern on whether he wins the Europe’s elite competition before he leaves for England.
The real reflection of Guardiola’s work is shown in areas other than the trophy room.
While at Barcelona, the tiki-taka style was incredible to watch and brought the Spanish giants all kinds of success, but it was always questioned how much of that was down to La Masia (Barca’s world famous academy) and how much was nurtured by Guardiola himself.
If you watch Bayern these days, it’s clear to see that the Barca style is something that can be taught from scratch.
Guardiola took over in Germany at the hardest time possible. Jupp Heynckes had just delivered the treble and Munich were seen as the complete package. And why wouldn’t they be?
Playing 4-5-1/4-3-3 with the likes of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben tearing teams apart week after week, Guardiola could have continued with Heynckes’ team and enjoyed more success. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But he chose to put his own stamp on the club and doing that at one the size of Bayern is no mean feat.
It’s not quite tiki-taka but Bayern now dominate possession, pulling teams from side to side, before forcing mistakes and creating chances for one of the world’s best strikers, Robert Lewandowski.
The acquisitions of Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal have helped but even with the squad he inherited, the changes came from day one.
Philipp Lahm, one of the most experienced and best full backs in the world, was comfortable playing under Heynckes but Guardiola recognised his skills could be utilised in a holding midfield role. Moving him there gave him a new challenge, one he rose to instantly.
Lahm gives Munich the bite in midfield needed to play Guardiola’s favoured formation – the never before seen 3-3-3-1 system.
Xabi Alonso plays as part of a back three, in a role similar to the old-fashioned sweeper that was popular back in the early 90’s. Javi Martinez is also a converted midfielder, although he had played there for Athletic Bilbao before his big money move in 2012.
The only thoroughbred centre back in Bayern’s system is Jerome Boateng, who flopped massively when he moved to Man City back in 2010. Guardiola has fine tuned him into one of the world’s best – one who before lacked the tactical nouse to back up his physical capabilities.
It’s this kind of work that ensures Pep’s work at Bayern can never be considered a failure, no matter what happens in the Champions League.
No matter how good the manager and squad is, you can’t guarantee European success.
Jose Mourinho won it with plucky FC Porto but couldn’t do it with Real Madrid, despite having a squad that cost more than ten times as much.
Guardiola shouldn’t be judged on his success in one competition, he should be judged on what he’s done with the club and Bayern are unrecognisable from the team that won the treble in 2012-13, and not in a bad way.