Pep Guardiola and Mario Götze have the power to change Bayern Munich's FC Hollywood image
Humble duo can alter the perception of the German giants
Only eight days after Pep Guardiola had stepped cautiously through the doors of the Allianz Arena, there followed another long awaited arrival in Mario Götze. Like Guardiola, the former Dortmund midfielder was positive but understated. Like Guardiola, there was the sense that only in time would Goetze begin to feel truly comfortable in his new surroundings.
"I'm sure I can develop here, and I'm sure it won't take me long to feel at home," insisted Götze. Underlying that was the concession of a naturally shy individual that the transition from his spiritual home in Dortmund would not be easy in the immediate.
Even before he had opened his mouth, it was clear that Götze was not fully integrated. His choice of t-shirt – adorned with the slogan of his own personal sponsor, Nike – caused the Bayern legal department some embarrassment as they were forced to make an apology to official sponsors adidas. But more than anything it was Götze's reserved demeanour, his gentle voice which marked the caution of his arrival.
It is perhaps curious for a club that is so readily criticised for its arrogance that its two most high profile new arrivals should be notable by their humility. But affinity with Pep Guardiola is the most significant reason why Götze agreed to leave Dortmund in the first place, and he was keen to show his appreciation for the new coach.
"He was really keen to check how I was. We've spoken, and he explained his philosophy to me. That was important for me."
The respect is mutual. As Bayern's director of sport Matthias Sammer admitted, Götze's name had been one of the first to emerge in the early discussions with Guardiola.
"It was very clear early on, what kind of player he was after, and Mario's name came up quickly. He seemed to think it was impossible to get a player like that. When we explained that it might be a possibility, he was very excited."
And so he should be. If Guardiola faces one major challenge over the coming months, it is reshaping his well established tactical model to suit a different group of players and a different footballing culture. Götze's versatility gives him more freedom, offering a new dimension to Bayern as an attacking force. In him and Thomas Müller, the side now have two players who can theoretically fill any position in the front four.
With that and his colossal €37m price tag in mind, you could forgive Götze for appearing a little nervous. Once again, he was mature and level headed enough to brush away questions of extreme pressure, but like Guardiola, he will know the immense expectation on his shoulders. Such pressure is only exacerbated by his injury, which will keep him from training fully with the squad for at least another four weeks.
By that time, one imagines, both he and Guardiola will have settled a little more. Götze was born in Memmingen, just outside Munich, and his family still live nearby. His older brother Fabian, indeed, plays for third division Munich based club Unterhaching, and the two will be sharing an apartment for the time being. If he did not appear entirely at home on his first day at Bayern, he is right that it will not take him too long to adapt.
Once he does, moreover, he may become an unlikely poster by for Bayern's new look. For the last few decades, they have been FC Hollywood, and the furore surrounding the Götze transfer seemed to consolidate that image at least for another year. But in Guardiola and Götze, they have two of the most reserved, humble and charming characters in world football. And the effect is already rubbing off. The normally bullish Matthias Sammer recently declared his club's respect for rivals Dortmund, while BVB defender Mats Hummels has apologised to Götze for his remark that his former team mate should not have left the club.
The tension between the two clubs, which had hit boiling point only a few months ago, is dying down. And while on the pitch they will remain fierce enemies, for now the mind games are conspicuous by their absence. For Bayern, the next year is an adventure, and a leap into the unknown. They are going about it with a distinct note of caution. That's the party line, and it has been toed brilliantly by both Pep Guardiola and Mario Götze.
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