German option may have surprised many but it makes perfect sense to former Barca boss
Bayern Munich have pulled off a bit of a coup for the club and its supporters
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is sure to have been startled as he awoke this morning by the realisation that there is someone in football he just couldn’t buy. And it is not, perhaps, a complete coincidence that Pep Guardiola has chosen to make his return to football in Germany, a nation where the Russian would never have been allowed to buy a major club.
The Germans require that 51 per cent of the shares in their Bundesliga clubs are owned by its supporters, the percentage at Bayern Munich, where Guardiola will take over in July, is higher at 82. So around 190,000 Germans got to brag to their friends yesterday that they had just hired the most exciting managerial talent in the world.
The Spaniard, who turns 42 tomorrow, has been hired to restore the club’s supremacy on the pitch after a few disappointing seasons. Announcing the news yesterday, club president Uli Hoeness took things a little too far by suggesting that “only a coach of Pep Guardiola’s calibre would be brought into consideration to replace Jupp Heynckes”.
Bayern said Heynckes told club officials before Christmas of his plan to retire at the end of the season. The 67-year-old was in his third stint as coach, taking over for the fired Louis van Gaal after the 2010-11 season.
“In a very personal discussion with Jupp Heynckes, we assured each other that we will do everything we can to bring the 2012-13 campaign to a successful conclusion, and bring the title back to Munich,” Bayern chief executive officer Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. Given they are currently nine points clear in the title race, that looks a distinct possibility.
The appeal of Guardiola is obvious. During his four years in charge at the Nou Camp, he won three titles and two Champions Leagues while playing a captivating brand of football. His side’s defeat of Manchester United at Wembley, to lift the second of those titles, cemented his status as the world’s most marketable manager.
Last year’s announcement he would be taking a sabbatical in order to recharge his batteries saw the most disorderly of queues forming to secure his services on his return.
Given the offers he has had, most notably from Abramovich but also, it is reported, from the likes of Manchester City and AC Milan, the decision to go to Bayern may seem, initially at least, a little surprising.
The Bundesliga is not Europe’s most glamorous league – though it narrowed the margin significantly yesterday with its current broadcast rights holders, who include Setanta and ESPN, doubtless pleased at the thought of German football becoming the new Spanish football. And though they are no Chelsea, the Bayern board is not the game’s most patient, with Guardiola’s the seventh appointment to the hot-seat in the last six years.