Skip to content

Guardiola goes to Bayern: Winners and losers

Jan 16, 2013, 3:18 PM EDT

Men's Coach of the Year nominee Guardiola of Spain addresses a news conference before the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2012 Gala in Zurich

“We are delighted we’ve succeeded in appointing leading coach Pep Guardiola,” was the understated phrasing from Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in a statement on the club website. His club was announced the capture of the most sought-after free agent in the world. Delighted should be an understatement.

“Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful coaches in the world,” Rummenigge said, “and we’re certain he will add great flair to both FC Bayern and German football. We’re looking forward to the partnership from July 2013.”

There’s no doubt German soccer, beyond merely Bayern, was a big winner on Tuesday, though they weren’t the only ones. If successful, Guardiola’s effects could extend into the international game and have a significant impact on how (and to whom) the Bundesliga is able to market itself.

Here are the big winners and losers:

Winners

German Bundesliga – The debate about whether the  Bundesliga has “arrived” (in the border era, compete with other leagues in this new Champions League-centric world sense) expired two years ago. Now the question is to what extent it can compete with the Premier League and La Liga, be that for results, talent, marketing opportunities, or television money.

To a certain extent, all these things dovetail, which is why landing somebody like Guardiola is such a big acquisition. Bayern have made the Bundesliga a far more viable entertainment option for a section of world fans who still slotted the league behind its peers. The last vestiges Serie A’s more lofty standing are base don biased Guardiola’s move will challenge.

That a respected name like Guardiola chose the Bundesliga means a lot of viewers may do the same.

Toni Kroos and the rest of Bayern’s midfield – Guardiola is not going to make Toni Kroos, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Bastian Schweinsteiger into Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets, but he can get them to play more like them, a process that will involve a more incisive use of space. The technical skill developed at La Masia may not be immediately replicable, but Guardiola can teach Bayern’s players to seek and use space in similar ways. The reflexive way Barcelona reacts to each others’ movements and passes in their tight quarters is what separates them from similarly talented teams.

There’s a huge learning curve there, and it’s going to involve developing a level of intuition (and cohesion) that’s hard to teach, but if Guardiola can do it, Kroos, Shaqiri and Schweinsteiger will be much better players.

Joachim Loew, his successor, and the German national team – Eight different Bayern players have been called into the Nationalmannschaft between Euro 2012 and now. If Guardiola can get more out of those players, the Germany national team will be able to close the gap with Spain, particularly if some of their key midfielders become more familiar with Spain’s Barcelona-defined style.

With a year and half until Brazil 2014, Guardiola’s players will get a full season playing in Barcelona’s style. The real effects, however, may not be felt until after Loew leaves his post in 2014.

Soccer fans and their DVRs – Despite the biggest crowds in the world, an aesthetically pleasing style, talent that few leagues can replicate, and some of the biggest clubs in the world, the Bundesliga is still a woefully neglected league in terms of television. While it seems like too much to think one man can raise the profile of a league, that’s the Barcelona effect. That’s what Guardiola brings. Particularly with clubs like Bayern and Borussia Dortmund (and their emerging Clasico), there’s bound to be more interest in the league. Eventually, that will mean more access to better, currently overshadowed soccer.

Bayern and Pep, of course – It really is the best case scenario for both sides. Bayern gets as good a coach as a club could want, while Guardiola gets a chance to carry another titan to the summit. And if Guardian Germany correspondent Raphael Honigstein is correct, he’ll get €8-€10 million per year to do it.

Losers

Manchester City – This was Guardiola’s most likely landing point if he wasn’t going to Bayern. With two former Barcelona executives in the front office, Manchester City had that connections that would offer Guardiola a smoother transition into English soccer. Ultimately, they weren’t Bayern.

English Premier League – England’s teams have had trouble competing in Europe of late(the author says while a London team holds the title), but the draw of the Premier League is usually enough to overcome and competition-base quibbles. But we’ve seen Barcelona’s immune to that. So is Real Madrid. Now it’s clear, Bayern Munich’s not only able to keep players from fleeing to England, they’re able to lure talents away.

Mario Gomez – Bayern Munich’s target man does not fit Pep Guardiola’s style. As we saw when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was at Barça, you can be the most talented player in the world, but if you can’t play in Guardiola’s system, you’ll lose time. Gomez may be able to adjust, but it’s difficult imagining the big No. 9 having long-term success under Guardiola.

English media – This kind of coverage has been going on since Guardiola left Barcelona this summer. Turns out the world is more than the Premier League and Spain’s Big Two.

That’s a bit unfair. England’s media product those stories because the public consumes them, Unfortunate, the English press are now out of the Guardiola business for a while.

Prepare for those recycled José stories.

Unknown

Javi Martínez – Under Guardiola idol Marcelo Bielsa, Martínez was converted from defensive midfielder to central defender at Athletic Bilbao. His summer move to Bayern seemed to put him back at his more natural position, but possessing all the qualities Guardiola has come to look for from his central defenders, you wonder if Martínez will eventually move back into a pairing with Holger Badstuder (and whether he sees himself as a defender).

Chelsea – Chelsea’s ability to acquire big name coaches has been hurt by Roman Abramovich’s handling of Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas, and Roberto Di Matteo. Still, it’s unclear whether today’s announcement makes them a loser. mostly because it’s unlikely Guardiola would have gone to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea has to rebuild its reputation before becoming a viable destination for coaches with other options.

The rest of Europe – It will be a while before we find out what effect Guardiola will have on Bayern. It won’t happen in July, when he takes over, and we likely won’t know whether his changes matter until the very end of the 2013-14 season.

That’s the kind of problem we encounter when we’re trying to analyze results at the far right end of the success spectrum. Guardiola could be the greatest coach in the world and barely move the needle, the difference between him and Jupp Heynckes only evident in four to eight matches per season.

However, Barcelona was in a similar state when they promoted Guardiola, and he made them into world standard. In Germany, he won’t have to have that dramatic of an effect to tip Europe’s scales. Bayern is already a Champions League contender.

Latest Posts
  1. UEFA Champions League preview: Juventus vs. Real Madrid in semifinal, 1st leg

    May 4, 2015, 8:54 PM EDT

    James Rodriguez & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF James Rodriguez & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF

    The first semifinal kicks off on Tuesday, as Juventus host Real Madrid, with Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema out injured.

  2. VIDEO: Wenger rues early-season injuries that prevented Arsenal’s title challenge

    May 4, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    Alexis Sanchez & Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC Alexis Sanchez & Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC

    If not for an incredibly slow start to the season, Arsenal might be neck and neck with Chelsea for the Premier League title.

  3. Premier League Playback: Title in the bag, can Chelsea now create a dynasty?

    May 4, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes a look back at Week 35 of the PL.

  4. Hull City 1-3 Arsenal: Gunners dominant in first half, cruise past Tigers

    May 4, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT

    Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC

    Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey provided all the scoring Arsenal needed in a dominant first half, making it a comfortable victory in the end.

  5. MLS Player of the Week — Week 9: FC Dallas’ Fabian Castillo

    May 4, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas — Photo credit: FC Dallas Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas — Photo credit: FC Dallas

    Our first repeat winner as MLS Player of the Week, Fabian Castillo is in scary-good form right now.

  6. MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 9

    May 4, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Obafemi Martins, Seattle Sounders Obafemi Martins, Seattle Sounders

    The stars of Week 9 are recognized as MLS’s standout performers. Giovinco, Oba and the Dallas duo highlight this star-studded cast.

  7. How did Chelsea’s players grade out in their run to the title?

    May 4, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Twenty-two players have hit the pitch for Chelsea so far this season. Let’s grade them out in order of Premier League import.

  8. Juventus director: “Right now there are no grounds to put Pogba on sale”

    May 4, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Juventus FC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Getty Images

    But what does that mean? If you’re reading it like we are, Marotta has not ruled out accepting a mega-millions offer for Pogba.

  9. Watch Live: Hull City vs. Arsenal (Lineups and Live Stream)

    May 4, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer FA Cup AP

    Laurent Koscielny makes his 200th appearance for Arsenal, which seeks to move into second place in the Premier League standings.

  10. Five things to look out for in UEFA Champions League semifinals

    May 4, 2015, 12:55 PM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen - Training Session Getty Images

    Inside: some keys to the fortunes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus as the first legs begin this week.

  11. Premier League Preview: Hull City vs. Arsenal

    May 4, 2015, 12:07 PM EDT

    Hull City v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    Arsenal still holds the inside track in the race for second place in the Premier League.

  12. Four Old Traffords? LVG-mandated, OT-mirroring pitches now ready for Manchester United

    May 4, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT

    manutd.com manutd.com

    Now, when United prepares for a home match, it can prepare for everything but the crowd.

  13. Newcastle United standing by Carver through final matches of relegation battle

    May 4, 2015, 10:22 AM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-CRYSTAL PALACE-NEWCASTLE Getty Images

    The Magpies have allowed multiple goals in all but two matches of the losing streak, and have dropped to just two points shy of the drop zone.

  14. In defense of Chelsea: The best team won, and looked just fine doing it

    May 4, 2015, 9:39 AM EDT

    APTOPIX Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Chelsea are the champions of England, and anyone holding a gripe with the Blues’ title simply harbors some other form of resentment for the London club.

  15. Reports: Alves still wanted by Barcelona as Liverpool agrees to terms with his Barca backup

    May 4, 2015, 8:34 AM EDT

    Martin Montoya, Fernandez AP

    The 24-year-old right back has long been behind Dani Alves in Barca’s pecking order. Alves is out of contract this summer, but the 31-year-old is still wanted by Barcelona.

  16. Spurs legend, 1966 World Cup winner Jimmy Greaves suffers severe stroke

    May 4, 2015, 7:49 AM EDT

    Jimmy Greaves Getty Images

    Greaves also played for Chelsea, AC Milan and West Ham United during the prime of his career.

  17. RVP relieved of penalty duties after miss against West Bromwich

    May 3, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    One miss and you’re out. That’s the Louis van Gaal way.

  18. MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 1-3 Seattle Sounders

    May 3, 2015, 9:10 PM EDT

    Obafemi Martins Obafemi Martins

    The combination of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins was too much to handle for NYCFC as the duo ran rampant at Yankee Stadium.

  19. VIDEO: What’s next for Chelsea?

    May 3, 2015, 8:40 PM EDT

    Chelsea may have just won the title, but Robbie Earle and Kyle Martino are already looking ahead to next season.

Featured video

Hazard lauds Mourinho after title win