Pep Guardiola arrives at Bayern Munich - giving German public first glimpse of a messianic figure

So good is the former Barcelona manager, that Bayern were willing to part with a club legend who finished his tenure by winning the treble

Self effacing, nervous by his own admission, and at times unable to articulate in the language of his new home, Pep Guardiola cut a cautious figure at his first press conference as coach of FC Bayern.

Had you come into the room with no idea who the man was, you'd have been forgiven for thinking that this was his first major job – that this was a man tentatively starting a managerial career, not one who, at only 42 years old, is already considered to be among the greatest coaches the game has ever seen.

Except that everybody knows who Josep Guardiola is. Everybody knows that, when Bayern's press officer Markus Hörwick declared it to be "the biggest press conference in the history of this club“, it was not simple hyperbole. The underlying spirit of the entire affair, indeed, was one of mutual adulation. Guardiola was earnest and not overstated when he called it "a gift, not just to be here, but to even be considered by FC Bayern."

"There aren't many clubs in the world with a history like this one," he continued, "that history is what I'm here for."

With that, the German public had their first glimpse of the romantic ideal of Guardiola. The respect he has garnered over the years is not just down to his success, but to his character. For all who have grown tired of the Clough and Mourinho school of egocentrism in football management, Guardiola has always been a messianic figure. One whose dignity and honesty are as admirable as his remarkable success. As David Trueba put it: "underneath those expensive Italian shoes, there is a heart in espadrilles."

So good is Guardiola, that Bayern were willing to part with his predecessor, a club legend who finished his tenure by winning the treble. That in itself is enough to swell his ego a little – and rightly so – but he is not one to show it. With Jupp Heynckes, he admitted, he had not yet been in contact, but "his opinion would be great. I have a huge respect for him, not just because of last season, but because of what he has achieved throughout his career."

Aside from his natural humility, though, there was also a clear nervousness, perhaps accentuated by a still fledgling grasp of German. His opening gambit was to apologise for his linguistic shortcomings, and he promised to improve over the coming months. Though determined to speak in German himself, he was forced to use an interpreter to understand the questions, and would frequently turn to the Bayern executives around him for help with a certain word. Even in full flow, his German would sometimes be peppered with English words, to afford a little more clarity.

 



While he is far from native fluency, though, it is clear that his year in New York was spent wisely. His mastery of the language was arguably as good as former Bayern coach Giovanni Trapattoni's had been after two years in Munich, and he was proficient enough to joke that "I haven't seen much of Bayern because my German teacher would not allow it. She is a Dortmund fan."

Jokes aside, Guardiola was always quick to point out that he is new to the Bayern's home on the Säbener Straße. Asked whether he will have trouble adapting the players to his system, he was honest and direct:

"The system doesn't matter. Football is played by the players, not the manager, and I have to get used to the players. When a team wins four trophies in a season, you don't have to change much. That's my opinion, but of course the other guys know this team better than I do."

His is a challenge which no other manager has ever had to fulfil – taking over a a team who has just won everything they could in the previous season. But in truth, he is right. The system is not that different to what he had in Barcelona anyway. Bayern already play passing, possession based football and they already have a strong youth system, which Guardiola expressed his wish to integrate into the first team as much as possible.

Guardiola's final statement illustrated perfectly that the move from Barcelona to Munich is not a culture clash. "I love to attack," he said, "That is my idea of football."

That will suit Bayern to a tee. That is the reason for the huge smiles across the faces of Uli Hoeneß, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Matthias Sammer as they sat next to him for the first time in the Allianz Arena.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago