"Positive" Guardiola pushing all the right buttons
Munich - Thousands of FC Bayern Munich enthusiasts defied the summer rain on Thursday just to get a glimpse of new head coach Pep Guardiola.
Gripped by what can only be described as 'Pep-mania', fans paid five euros apiece for the privilege, with the money going to help the victims of the recent flooding in Germany. The assembled multi-cultural masses were not to be disappointed.
It proved another fascinating insight into the workings of a man who, after just four days on the job, appears completely at ease in his new surroundings. Not only that, but it's increasingly apparent that he's really quite enjoying himself. A hop, skip and jump between exercises, a few friendly words of encouragement and the occasional pat on the back or, in captain 's case, a playful slap around the face, are all testament to that.
"Every trainer and their backroom staff do things differently," Lahm explained. "There's always something new when a new coach comes in. Team talks, training - it's all new. [...My] first impressions are really positive. He communicates really well in German and fills in the gaps in English. We're looking ahead with great optimism."
Just like on Wednesday, Guardiola spent a large chunk of Thursday's session keenly observing, and playing his part, in a variety of one or two-touch passing games. Satisfied with proceedings, he also introduced a selection of drills centred around speed and agility - a few deviations from the standard shuttle runs to be more precise.
As ever, the 42-year-old set about introducing, partaking in and evaluating the new set of exercises with passion, excitement and pleasure, not once shying away from the idiosyncrasies of each task. Be it in German, English or, more often than not, a hybrid of the two, his communication skills could not be faulted.
"Guardiola is unbelievably motivated," enthused FC Bayern winger Franck Ribery. "It's great for the players. He's completely committed [...] He speaks really good German, which isn't at all easy. Before we came out for training, he spoke to us in a very positive manner."
And there's that apt, little buzzword yet again: "positive" - seemingly the adjective of choice in the Bayern camp to describe the embryonic work that's slowly but surely beginning to unravel right before the Munich eyes. Please sir, can we have some more?
Christopher Mayer-Lodge reporting from the Allianz Arena