Following Bayern Munich’s recent failure to reach the German Cup,or more importantly,the Champions League final,questions were asked about Pep Guardiola’s future at the club. With just one year left on his contract when summer comes, rumours of Guardiola leaving the club began flying around. With Manuel Pellegrini linked with a move away from Manchester City,it was thought that Guardiola could be his possible replacement,City expected to throw crazy amounts of money at the Catalan tactical genius.
Josep Guardiola’s trophy count at the fairly youthful age(in managerial terms) of 44 sometimes requires a second look to believe what you are reading,as a manager he has won 20 titles and with a of 17 individual awards,there is no doubt Guardiola is one of the best in the business. His focus on the tactical and technical aspects of the game is almost ridiculous and his constant striving for perfection is another matter in itself. So far during his time at Bayern,his side have had the Bundesliga wrapped up well before the end of the season as well as a German Cup,a Super Cup and a Club World Cup under their belts too. However,the trophy the Bavarians crave most is the Champions League,so far with Bayern,Guardiola has not reached the final stage of the competition,this perhaps getting under the board and supporter’s skin. During these possibly frustrating couple of Champions League exits,the Bayern fans have remained in full support and voice of the team and their manager, all likely relaxing the sudden genius their manager can come up with.
In the last six months,Pep and his Bayern side haven’t lived up to the normal ‘Bayern’ expectations. They were knocked out of the German Cup on penalties by rivals Borussia Dortmund,had some below par Bundesliga performances and lost 3-1 away to Porto,although this later proved to be insignificant. Largely a lot of this can be blamed on injuries,key men such as Arjen Robben,Franck Ribery and David Alaba have all been injuries,meaning Bayern have been mostly restricted to a midfield diamond and a makeshift back three or four,Rafinha often filling in as a centre-back in a back three.The most significant blow to Bayern has been the loss of wing pair ‘Robbery’,Bayern’s loss of speed in the transition has seen them use Thomas Muller and even Phillip Lahm as their wide outball on the break,this giving them more variation in attack but still not the same penetration as ‘Robbery’ would provide. Others have blamed Pep’s lack of success down to him being overly philosophical and attempting turn Bayern into a team they are not,I disagree with this as if you take a closer look into Bayern,particularly their squad and upcoming talents,the players they have could easily adapt to Pep’s preferred style.
How will Pep sort the situation out?
This summer may be one for rebuilding at Bayern. After their failure to win anything other than the Bundesliga,the board will certainly be willing to improve Pep’s squad. All season rumours have been floating around that Pep was not willing to carry on with his job if he wasn’t allowed to have a major rebuild this summer. With Bayern’s squad not getting any younger and key players becoming more injury prone as they move into their thirties,Pep certainly has big changes to make. Apparently,players such as Dante,Benatia,Pizzaro and most surprisingly,club legend Bastian Schweinsteiger are headed for the exit door if Pep gets his own way,whether this pans out as rumoured or not only time will tell,the reason for Schweinsteiger’s rumoured exit is his lack of patience in build-ups,his love for vertical passes can often disrupt Pep’s love for possession. As usual,in the months leading to the summer transfer window,sports journalists go mad for headlines and rumours. This year it has been no different,Bayern have been strongly linked with Wolfsburg’s Kevin de Bruyne and deadly rivals Dortmund’s Ikay Gundogan while PSG’s Marco Verratti is another reported target for Guardiola. If Bayern were able to bring these players in this would most definitely result in a midfield clearout for Bayern,Schweinsteiger and Alonso likely to be the main casualties of the clearout.
The main problem with Pep being given the chance to rebuild Bayern’s squad would be that he has never done a rebuilding job before. He left Barcelona before they had to rebuild the squad,leaving Tito Villanova and Gerard Martino to rebuild the squad in the next few years,meaning he has no experience on this front. Another problem but would be that his transfers have been fairly inconsistent,Dmytro Chygrynskiy being one that particularly sticks out.
A positive from this rebuilding would be that Bayern’s youth may begin to get more of a chance,the longer Pep spends at Bayern,the more he will get to know the club,this could mean next season,Bayern’s youth squad see more of the first team. This was one of Pep’s best actions as Barça manager,promoting players such as Busquets and Pedro to the first team. Maybe next season we will see more of players such as Sinan Kurt,Milos Pantovic and Gianluca Gaudino.
Why Bayern must stick with Pep
Simply put,Josep Guardiola is a tactical genius. So far during his time at Bayern,admittedly,he has not enjoyed his best moments as a manager. However,there is no doubt that Pep is one of the best managers in the world,if not the best. Ne of the main arguments in Pep’s favour would have to be,who would replace him? The only obvious replacements would be Jurgen Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti,both likely to be out a job come summer. Klopp however,seems to have his heart set on a move to England,Liverpool the destination constantly coming up. Ancelotti would then be the more likely option,his counter-attacking style of football being a more clean fit to Bayern than Pep’s. Like Pep though,Ancelotti has no experience in Germany and is also inconsistent with transfers. All these points just wouldn’t add up to the sacking of Guardiola,he is just as tactically sound than any other manager in Europe and certainly has the honours to back him up.So Bayern Munich,stick with Pep.