In November 2015, Pep Guardiola and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge met for dinner in a central Munich restaurant. The meeting ended with tears from the two protagonists, as the Bayern manager would later reveal. During the evening, the Catalan coach told his boss that he would not accept the attractive renewal offer that the Bavarian club offered him. The decision meant the advance of the final point to three seasons (from 2013 to 2016) that did not leave Bayern Munich or German football indifferent. In Guardiola’s debt, he is blamed for not winning the Champions League, the same shadow that haunts him now at Manchester City. This Wednesday (9:00 p.m., Movistar Champions League), the 3-0 win in the first leg has them one step away from playing another semifinal. “I had an amazing time here, my family too. I have many friends. The club is fantastic. But now I’m here to do my job and we hope to win,” said the City coach at the press conference prior to the game.
Guardiola left a deep stylistic mark on Bayern beyond mere results. They won seven titles (three Bundesligas, two German Cups, one Club World Cup and one European Super Cup), played in three European Cup semifinals and changed the paradigm of a club that had never linked aesthetics so much with efficiency. “We were always successful, but we rarely count on beauty. Under Pep’s command, suddenly, everyone admired us,” Rummenigge said months after the Santpedor coach left.
“I think that was an exchange between Bayern and him. Pep left a legacy, but Bayern and German football also left him. He had to get used to another type of football and other players. It was a team that included Ribéry, Robben, Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos or Mandzukic, different from the ones he had trained at Barcelona”, warns Domènec Torrent, who was part of Guardiola’s coaching staff for ten years, including the three-year period in Munich.
The other senior Bayern manager who empathized a lot with Guardiola was Uli Hoeness. So much so that from time to time he sends her 10 kilos of sausages from the factory he owns. They have also agreed on the oktoberfest, the Munich beer festival that Guardiola promised to visit whenever he could. The Bayern president would have liked the Catalan coach to have agreed to continue at the club. In the book Pep Guardiola, the metamorphosis, by Martí Perarnau, this refers to the three years that the coach considered ideal to complete a cycle in a club. This rule, unfortunately for Hoeness, has been broken by Guardiola at City, where he is already going for his seventh season.
The transformation he undertook at Bayern marked footballers like Philip Lahm, Manuel Neuer and Xabi Alonso a lot. “It makes the players see the game in a different way, but Pep also understood that he had to practice faster football to get to the top sooner and also to play with more classic box nines like Mandzukic and then Lewandowski. Now the same thing has happened with Haaland, he has had to adapt to a certain player, although he must also assimilate Pep’s concepts ”, Torrent analyzes.
Guardiola made an appearance at the Allianz Arena yesterday with a smile for the Bayern employees who crossed his path to the press room. There he mixed a serious rictus that combined with the black jacket that he wore over a shirt of the same color. “I know this team, I know what Sabener Strasse is. [la calle en la que está enclavada la ciudad deportiva del Bayern]I know you think you can do it. They have a history in this competition, they have grown with it”, warned Guardiola.
Among the coaches who caused the most impact in the way of understanding the game is Thomas Tuchel, current Bayern coach. In Munich they still remember a meeting between the two at the Schumann’s restaurant. For four hours they enthusiastically simulated movements with salt shakers, glasses and cutlery. The German coach must face the attempt of a Homeric comeback under a climate set on fire by the last bad results and Mané’s punch to Sané in the Etihad locker room. “We need a mix between realism and the faith that in football, if things go well, anything can happen. Miracles do not happen by talking, hence the speech must be adapted to the circumstances. It’s not about dreaming, but about believing in ourselves, enthusing the spectators and giving it our all”.
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