Friday 22 September 2017

'Kaiser Pep' building a 'little Barca' in Bavaria

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola

Pete Jenson

Pep Guardiola once described Jose Mourinho as the "puto amo" ("f*****g boss") of the press room during one of their heated exchanges in Spain.

Today, two weeks after Mourinho was presented as Chelsea's new coach, 'Kaiser Pep' will be unveiled as Bayern Munich's new manager and is preparing to bring the house down by speaking in fluent German.

"He has been studying like a mad man," says his brother, the football agent Pere Guardiola, while other former players have said they are not surprised the ultra­professional former Barca manager comes into the job perfectly prepared.

Mourinho and Guardiola will come face to face once again when the two meet in the European Super Cup in Prague on August 30.

The theme of Pep against 'Mou' is likely to continue this season as Chelsea emerge as one of Bayern's main rivals on the European stage. For all last season's glories, Bayern still look back with anger at that missed opportunity to win the Champions League in their own stadium in 2012, which was spoiled by a Chelsea side now managed by Mourinho.

ENEMIES

Guardiola may also find enemies within Bayern if he does not get off to the best of starts or if he disagrees with the club's hierarchy over who is sold and who is bought.

One of the secrets of his success in his four years at Barcelona was the power that he had within the club to get rid of big-name players every summer. Upon taking charge at the Nou Camp, he immediately demanded Deco and Ronaldinho be sold. The next summer Samuel Eto'o left and youth team golden boy Bojan Krkic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were others he saw off.

In his final year there were even suggestions Guardiola had asked for Gerard Pique to be moved on before deciding he himself would go instead. What will happen at Bayern if he decides one of the club's sacred cows must be sacrificed?

He has to answer to the club's president, Uli Hoeness, director general Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and sporting director Matthias Sammer, although they all made the decision to bring in Guardiola so it is in their interests that he succeeds.

The new man has been careful to surround himself with familiar faces, with former Barcelona coaches Domenec Torrent and Carles Planchart joining him in Munich.

He hired both in 2007 when he was coach of Barcelona 'B' and they helped the club's reserve team win promotion to the second division, staying with Guardiola when he became first-team coach in 2008.

Planchart will supervise analysis of opposing teams and Torrent will be Guardiola's assistant alongside Hermann Gerland, who has been at Bayern since 2001. He is the club's former B-team coach and will be an important asset as Guardiola looks to sustain Bayern's ability to draw on their own youth academy. Six of last season's 24-man squad were homegrown.

Perhaps Guardiola's most important ally will be Lorenzo Buenaventura, who he brought to Barca in 2008 as fitness coach and who can take much of the credit for the way they were transformed from Frank Rijkaard's hugely talented but one-paced side, to Europe's most intensive team.

Guardiola wanted a team that would furiously chase to win possession within seconds of losing it, but it was Buenaventura who conditioned the players to be able to do that.

The new Bayern manager will also have life-long friend Manuel Estiarte, the former Olympic water-polo gold medal winner, with him. Estiarte has been an ally abroad for Guardiola and supported him when he was banned for alleged doping in Italy in 2001 – he was absolved of any wrongdoing in 2007.

Win at Bayern and the coach who has reportedly been given a €17m-a-year salary will be able to extend the 'little Barcelona' entourage he has established in Bavaria; falter and his 'clique' will be seen as an unnecessary burden on the Bayern wage bill.

Bayern's honorary president Franz Beckenbauer said after Jupp Heynckes' treble that things "couldn't get any better". Now it is down to Kaiser Pep to prove him wrong. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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