Jose and Zlatan and Pep, Oh My!
June 3, 2016 Leave a comment
Long time no read, Dear Readers! Oh, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. FC Bayern were crowned champions of Europe. Germany were crowned champions of World football shortly thereafter, while I, Your Humble Narrator, mildly saturated in beer, rejoiced.
And then, reality set in. Pep Guardiola set up shop at FC Bayern and everyone began heralding him responsible for their success while the standards and nature of that success slowly eroded. Players came, and players went. Exit our beloved Basti and Toni, launcher of the Kroos Missiles, for Manchester United and Real Madrid respectively. Enter Douglas Costa, Thiago and Javi Martinez.
Oh, the lengths to which I can regale you, Dear Readers, with the explanations as to why Guardiola’s time at Bayern must be counted as a failure. The short answer is the simplest, however; how many trebles did we win?
Yeah. A few times. Asshole.
Not only that, but in his second season, Guardiola won a single, paltry trophy; the Bundesliga silverware as league’s top team (which is more of a plate than a trophy, but I digress.) The uninitiated and fringe Bayern fan, with their lowered expectations and envious gaze might cry, “What more do you want from your manager?”
Trophies, silly. We want more trophies. Three of them a year. Every year. Please. Or you’re fired. Welcome to Bayern.
That was the deal for Pep Guardiola. At least one CL Trophy. That was the deal for Jupp Heynckes. That was expected of Ottmar Hitzfeld and Felix Magath and Jürgen Klinsmann and all the men who came before them. You win or you’re fired. Pep Guardiola was only special in that he was so expensive that he didn’t win and was NOT fired. I am sure Jürgen Klinsmann was thrilled about that.
Short story long, Ding! Dong! The witch is dead!
Don’t let the door hit ya where the Lord split ya, Guardiola. Pep is gone and has been told in no uncertain terms by Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Rummunigge and company that, under no circumstances is he to pillage the Bayern squad on his way across the pond to Manchester City.
He’s off to another team with high ambitions, a glut of talent and buckets of cash to attempt to prove to the football world that he can win a Champions League title without a majestic little Argentinean named Leo Messi in his squad.
Then, as though by divine providence, not only have the Footy Gods delivered us from possession football, but they have delivered Bayern fans like myself who have been waiting with baited breath to see the back side of Pep Guardiola a parting gift in the form of Jose Mourinho, the “Special One”, the larger-than-his-team personalty and hated rival of Pep Guardiola, installed at the helm of Manchester City’s rival Manchester United.
As though on cue, with Mourinho prepared to take the reins for the Red Devils, rumours surface that he has recruited an old war buddy in his siege against Guadiola and his Sir Snooze-a-lot brand of football .
Enter the Zlatan.
That’s right, everyone’s favorite Swedish football player and, quite possibly, the only man in world football with an ego to rival Mourinho’s, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is rumoured to be set to sign on for a year in the trenches with “The Special One” as they look to restore relevance and prominence to a lackluster Manchester United squad.
And though neither manager has taken to the pitch with their new squad, players have yet to be signed and the make up of both squads are far from finalized, the opening salvo has been fired. And it’s advantage Mourinho.
Ibrahimovic is, undeniably, a world class player and is quite openly NOT a fan of Pep Guardiola and his brand of football. In fact, he is quite possibly the only person in world football who despises Pep Guardiola as much as Jose Mourinho does. (Your Humble Narrator ranks a distant third.) Given their long-standing rivalry, and Mourinho’s desire to put his mark on Manchester United by attracting talent, who better to recruit to Man United back than Ibra?
With so much work to be done for Mourinho given Man City are still perennial contenders in the Premiereship while Manchester United have drifted into mediocrity in the post-Fergie era, Jose has made it abundantly clear that, all other things being equal, he’s going to be on Pep Guardiola’s ass like white on rice in a glass of milk in a paper plate in a snow storm at a Donald Trump rally.
And so, we Bayern fans bid Farewell and Adieu to you, Spanish lady! Farewell and Adieu oh Guardiola of Spain! (For we’ve received orders we can now shoot from distance, and won’t pass to the keeper until we see you again!)
Despite his brave face, Guardiola’s time at Bayern was a failure. No Champions League trophies did he win. A paltry two DFB Pokal victories when three were expected, loyal soldiers lost in the war to stay awake through his tenure like Basti, Kroos and even more notably, Dr. Wolfhart-Müller, physician extraordinaire who includes Usain Bolt amongst his patients.
The good doctor left the club after being publicly scapegoated by Guardiola as the root cause of injuries to key players in his second season at the helm during the grueling knock-out stages of the DFB Pokal and Champions League competitions in late winter.
Though there are many Bayern fans and non-Bayern fans alike who would disagree with that assessment, they are welcome to their opinions. As my high school science teacher Mr. Matusiak used to say “You have the right to fail,” and since they are excusing Guardiola’s failure to achieve his mandate of a Champions League trophy, is it much surprise that they exist in a realm of lowered expectations and consolation prizes as Guardiola does?
Of course not, Dear Readers, but that is while in Karl and Franz we trust. The likes of Guardiola can make excuses for their performance to keep the fans interested while the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge make the difficult assessments in the board room. As Pep gets paid to tell us all is well, K&F are paid to make contingencies to limit the damage; like the “don’t steal our players” clause in Guardiola’s release to Manchester City.
Surely, Guardiola would have loved to take his prodigy Thiago Alacantara with him to Manchester City. He would likely love to bring Lewandowski with him as well (though Real Madrid are circling like vultures hoping to sign the dynamic Pole this transfer window). Given the rumours that some current City players (coughcoughYayaTourecoughcough) are loathe to adopt the Guardiola style of play, Guardiola stands to have an uphill battle ahead of him at City.
Pep has mountainous expectations to satisfy playing for an ownership group with the deepest of pockets and expecting a well-stocked trophy cabinet as return on their investment. He is also trying desperately to shake his label as an underwhelming coach with only one strategy who only takes work with teams who already have overwhelming talent and the finances to monopolize world class players.
He has the challenge of bringing his possession style of football to a very fit and strategically savvy Premiere League which stands to be most apt to consistently contain and counter his stifling possession game.
And now, he gets to wake up to the voracious British media every day and read, watch and stream all the lovely things the Special One and his good buddy Zlatan have to say about him, his team and his brand of football.
Have a good summer, Pep! Go somewhere cool, because it’s going to get mighty hot underneath that collar of yours soon.