Pep Guardiola’s future was the subject of heated debate, but finally it is official – he will be coaching Bayern Munich from next season. The announcement that the former Barcelona coach is heading to Munich after his year break in New York is over will disappoint many who had hoped to spend the summer spreading rumour and counter rumour over his future.
It is bad news for many. For the English clubs, mainly Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, who had been linked with Guardiola. Roman Abramovich has long yearned to attract the real Special One to Stamford Bridge, but now must concede defeat and turn his attentions elsewhere. Earlier this week Sandro Rosell, the Barcelona President, said that Manchester City had been lurking around trying to poach their staff. That they failed to attract Guardiola in spite of bringing in Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain will be a huge kick in the teeth to City, but will have many in Catalonia quietly amused.
It is bad news for hacks and newspapers everywhere. In recent weeks some reported that sources close to Guardiola said he was going to Manchester City. One even said it was “100 per cent certain”. Whoever that is may be admonished by their editor in the coming hours. Others were reporting that Manchester United were in pole position for the most wanted man in football. It is a relief in many ways that we no longer have to put up with the dull ordeal of having to read unsubstantiated rumours. It shows that you may as well have asked the man stood near Guardiola on the New York subway where he was going to end up, rather than these ‘well placed sources’. So thank you Guardiola for ending that particular saga.
This is also an unwelcome announcement for Jupp Heynckes, the current occupant of the Bayern hot seat who has guided them through a phenomenal start to the Bundesliga season. But his departure was expected whatever Bayern's achievements this season, and Matthias Sammer, who arrived at Bayern as their sporting director last summer, can be rightly delighted with a superb piece of business in luring the most wanted man in football.
Perhaps Guardiola simply wanted to make sure he avoided Jose Mourinho. It is sure that Jurgen Klopp, unless he leaves Borussia Dortmund for some reason, will be in situ at the Westfalonstadion next year. So there will be no renewal of the Guardiola-Mourinho rivalry, as there could well have been with the Portuguese Real Madrid coach looking to return to England this summer . Guardiola was genuinely bothered by Mourinho during his time as Barcelona coach. The Real Madrid coach was an irritant, constantly biting away at them. The strains of dealing with the former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss was a major issue for the ex Barcelona man.
That Guardiola has opted to go to Germany is the latest boost for a resurgent Bundesliga. The league is the only one of Europe’s top divisions whose clubs are making profits, rather than losses. Three teams have won their Champions League groups, and it is the best attended league in Europe. Guardiola spoke of the passion of English football in the comments released earlier today. Yet German football is arguably more passionate still. In England football might be the number one sport, but cricket, tennis, golf and rugby all dominate sports news pages. In Germany, football is the number one, two and three sport.
It is also a victory for the financial prudence of Bayern. Guardiola, an idealist in many ways, has gone for a team who break even every year and do not make losses. They live within their means. Bayern chiefs have repeatedly hit out at Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris St Germain of late for failing to get their financial houses in order. They may justifiably stick their tongues out at those three now, all of whom were widely reported to be after Guardiola.
And on the pitch, Bayern are one of the top teams in the world. Champions League finalists in two of the last three years, this is one of the biggest clubs there is. With such a strong squad, from the defensive talents of Phillip Lahm and Jerome Boateng, a midfield containing Javi Martinez, Xherdan Shaqiri, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos, and forwards of the calibre of Mario Gomez, Mario Mandzukic, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Oh, and possibly the world’s best goalkeeper in Manuel Neuer.
With Guardiola at the helm, the sky is the limit for Bayern, a team with significant resources behind them. Could today’s announcement herald the age of European dominance for Bayern?