Bayern’s philosophy echoes that of Barcelona – just without the debt
When Thomas Mueller headed the ball past Petr Cech to put FC Bayern 1-0 up in the Champions League Final, the German television cameras were quick to seek out the disgruntled visage of Roman Abramovich. German commentator Christoph Wulff had not learned his lesson from 1999. “You see, Mr Billionaire?” he declared, “Money can’t buy you everything after all”. A few minutes later, Didier Drogba stuffed those ill-chosen words right back down Wulff’s throat, with a header – and later a penalty – which broke Bavarian hearts.
Eight months on, however, and it seems that Wulff, however inadvertently, may just have got it right after all. After the back pages triumphantly reported Pep Guardiola’s preference for English football yesterday morning, it was to the Bundesliga and FC Bayern which Guardiola finally turned. All the riches of West London and Manchester City had proved insufficient to tempt the Catalan to England.
This, after all, was never about the money. While Bayern may still be among the richest clubs of world football, it is severely unlikely that they would have been willing to even approach the figures either City or Chelsea would have dangled in front of Guardiola. His decision to become the first Spanish manager in the history of the Bundesliga was a footballing, not a financial one.
“Bayern were not the club which offered the most money,“ said his agent yesterday, “Guardiola chose this club because of its organisation, its opportunities and its players”. How dispiriting that assertion must be for those who continue to blindly insist that the Premier League is The Best League In The World. Not the apparently unrivalled talent on show in the Premier League for Pep. Not the unassailable riches of England. Rather the rigorously controlled finances and obsession with domestic youth development of Germany.
Bayern may have something of a reputation as the bullies of German football, but they remain by far and away the most financially secure of Europe’s elite teams. On the field, meanwhile, they vigorously extoll the virtues of developing young, German players (albeit often poached from other German clubs).
This trend is not likely to change anytime soon. Bayern’s last major signing was also a new managerial figure. Matthias Sammer took over as Director of Sport last summer and has immediately set about ensuring that Bayern’s philosophy remains geared towards young, homegrown talent, with the odd expensive star drafted in where an immediate gap needs to be filled.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Certainly to Pep Guardiola it must. Which is why it is easy to believe his agent when he says it was not about the money. Bayern’s philosophy echoes that of Barcelona – just without the debt. They are a club run by football people for football people. And Pep Guardiola is a football person.
His arrival of course, always depended on Jupp Heynckes deciding not to renew his contract come the end of the season – a decision which the club confirmed yesterday afternoon. The 67-year-old’s first spell as Bayern coach ended with a messy, shotgun dismissal which Uli Hoeness claims to regret to this day. This time around, Heynckes will leave with his friendship with Hoeness stronger than ever, and in the knowledge that his side will be left in extremely capable hands. As Hoeness put it: “the only adequate successor to Jupp Heynckes would have been a coach of Guardiola’s calibre.”
That calibre has been welcomed with a relentless wave of excitement in the Bundesliga. Even Borussia Dortmund general manager Hans-Joachim Watzke has proclaimed Bayern’s coup as “a great thing for the Bundesliga”, adding “it will give the league even more of a reputation internationally.”
For Guardiola, of course, there is still a huge challenge ahead. His philosophy may be the perfect matrimony with that of Matthias Sammer and FC Bayern, but we must wait and see how quickly he can adapt to life outside of the familiarity of Barcelona. For now, though, Bayern fans have license to celebrate. They have got their man. And with him, perhaps also a token amount of revenge against Chelsea for the heartbreak of May 2012.Tagged in: bayern munich, chelsea, Pep Guardiola
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