It’s certainly one to watch. Borussia Dortmund versus Bayern Munich in an all-German Champions League final at Wembley. Pep Guardiola as we know will be taking over from Jupp Heynckes as Bayern boss come the end of the season, and there’s nothing better for an incoming manager to see than his future side playing well (to put it lightly).
But will Guardiola be as pleased as we think he ought to be with the current goings-on in Munich?
One just might think that Mr Guardiola will be subtly cheering on Dortmund come the end of May. Why? Because the last thing you want before you take on a job is for the predecessor to have done a fantastic one. Bayern Munich stand on the brink of European glory. They face a team they have well and truly creamed in the Bundesliga this season, as Dortmund oppose them in their third final in four seasons. They have a great chance, potentially the best out of all three, and that will no doubt be making Pep Guardiola somewhat nervous.
Winning the Champions League is the be all and end all of club football. The only way you can go after that is down. If Bayern are to beat Dortmund on the 25th of May and win it, it makes Guardiola’s job a lot harder. For starters, he won’t be able to glorify the ‘winning of the champions league’ as his main aim, as it’s already been achieved. He will have to aim higher, or risk looking like a failure. You may think that Guardiola is a better manager than Heynckes, perhaps most Bayern fans think that too, but should Bayern beat Dortmund in three weeks and should Pep fail to retain the trophy, who’s standing in the better light? Pep will have to aim for utter European dominance, like he arguably achieved with his Barcelona side. But without the years of developing players and integrating them into a playing style which was evident throughout the entirety of FC Barcelona, doing so at Bayern will be a lot harder.
Guardiola certainly has the tools to do it however. He was smart when assessing who he should manage next. He obviously took one look at Bayern, their players, their fanbase, their infrastructure and thought “I can go places with this team”, unfortunately for him though, Bayern’s talent became apparent a season too early.
He will have to have reasonably quick success too should Heynckes win the Champions League. There is that old saying; ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, so after winning ‘Ol Big ears’ and in the process smashing Barcelona 7-0 over two legs, will Bayern be happy to let Pep change the club at his own free will? Probably not. Bayern have proven that you can outplay Barcelona, something which seemed impossible so much as 12 months ago, albeit this Barcelona side seems somewhat weaker than past Guardiola sides but nevertheless, what Bayern did was extremely impressive. Do they really need the man who epitomizes the culture and way of playing that they just trounced 7-0 to come in and tell them how to play? I should think not.
Bayern have some powerful and influential voices behind the scenes too. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Franz Beckenbauer are all still very influential figures at Bayern, with Der Kaiser not actually having any official position of authority (as his Presidency ended in 2009). Those two in particular epitomize Bayern Munich in a similar way to how Pep does for Barca, and one can only presume that if a shift towards tiki-taka fails to work immediately, Pep could find himself on the back foot. Not to mention, Heynckes is an extremely popular figure in Munich and fans may be quick to turn on any man who is doing worse than a beloved predecessor.
But it’s not all potential doom and gloom of course. Guardiola, who is arguably one of the best managers in the world is about to take over at arguably the best side in the world. Bayern have arguably Germany’s hottest prospect signed in Mario Gotze, and there’ll surely be a few more walking through that Bayern door in the summer, with the likes of Lewandowski, Neymar and Suarez already heavily linked with moves to the Munich club. They have arguably one of the best keepers in the world, they have fantastic leaders like Lahm and Schweinsteiger, they have brilliant flair players in Robben, Ribery and Shaqiri and the rest of the team ain’t half bad either. Guardiola will have to screw up badly to fail with this set of players, however we’ve seen fairy-tale pairings end in tears before. (Brian Clough, Leeds United anyone). Still, it seems unlikely.
But one thing’s for sure, although he may not admit it, deep down Pep Guardiola is hoping that Dortmund beat his team-to-be on the 25th. Timing of a managers arrival can be extremely important. In fact it was even said by Ruud Gullit that Jose Mourinho was set to take over as Chelsea boss last season, however when Di Matteo lifted the European Cup he thought better of it. It’s just a rumour, but an example of where bad timing can get in the way, and Pep will be hoping that he won’t have to suffer that problem. Regardless of who wins the big one, Bayern or Dortmund, Germany’s most successful club are sure to have many years of more success with someone like Guardiola at the helm. It’s all a question now of whether Pep will get the start he wants. We’ll find out on the 25th.