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Guardiola joins the Bundesliga revolution, but why?
When news broke that Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola had snubbed the Premier League to manage Bayern Munich, it stunned the footballing world.
This decision shows the Spaniard is not motivated by money, following rumours last week that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was preparing to offer him a staggering £18 million a year to manage last years Champions League winners.
Is it the fact trigger-happy Chelsea have had eight managers since Jose Mourinho left five and a half years ago? Or the pressure he would be under to succeed at Stamford Bridge?
Guardiola has always spoke of his wish to manage in England one day and meetings with Sir Alex Ferguson has led to rumours he may be the one to succeed the Scot at Old Trafford. Even rumours of him succeeding Arsene Wenger have been rife and this may be more appealing to join a club with stability, who have stuck with their manager regardless.
But why Germany?
German football has come on leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons. Although it isn’t watched as much as the Premier League and La Liga, it is now making a serious claim to being the best league in the world.
Like the Premier League, any team can beat each other on their day in the Bundesliga and although the league has been a two-horse the past few seasons, other teams have come close. Borussia Mönchengladbach were rivalling Dortmund in the race for the 2011/2012 title, until they fell off the pace going into the new year.
German football is appealing to today's professionals. Rafael Van Der Vaart returned to Hamburg, where he enjoyed playing some of his best football in a previous spell. Klaas Jan Huntelaar recently rejected Arsenal and other clubs advances by renewing his contract with Schalke and Javi Martinez opted for a move to Munich from Athletic Bilbao.
German football is also a game for the fans, rather than super-rich Premier League. Arsenal’s lowest price for Man City fans last week was £62, leading to 900 tickets unsold. For less than £40 more, that could buy a season ticket at Bayern. A standing ticket at (a full house) Veltins Arena to watch Schalke would cost around 15 euros rather than paying £20 to watch Wigan Athletic at a half full DW stadium.
Ticket prices across the board are a lot cheaper than in England, which could be the reason the average attendance in the Bundesliga last year was 45,726. The Premier League’s average was 35,677. Although they have a higher quantity of large stadiums, empty seats are more visible at games in England than Germany.
Atmosphere’s created by German crowds are also why the crowds are better, the crowd back the team for 90 minutes, despite the score.
The way clubs are run should be a financial model for English clubs. Financial Fair Play rules mean they cannot spend within their means yet Bayern, a debt free club, can still afford to pay around £31 million for Javi Martinez. Being free of debt means they can pump money made from sponsors and competitions back into the club.
The German youth system is one of the best in the business. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa proved this. Young Players such as Sami Khedira, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil shone in a German squad that oozed youth and quality. The average age of the squad was 25 and only three players were over 30.
German football hasn’t seen success in the Champions League since Bayern triumphed in 2001, although in recent years they have come close- Bayern dominated the 2012 final. They lost to a rejuvenated Chelsea team, who won on penalties after being outplayed for 120 minutes.
With Guardiola taking over in the summer, all eyes will be how he copes with a different team, in a different country and “El Noi de Santpedor” may help Bayern to Champions League success once again.