Munich - With six trophies in his sights as the new head coach of European champions FC Bayern Munich, the pressure is on Pep Guardiola to deliver a positive outcome in his debut campaign with the record title-holders.
Guardiola: “It won’t be easy”
However, though a sextuple is nothing new for the Spaniard, who accomplished the feat in the 2009 calendar year with FC Barcelona, the more important question isn't whether he can equal or exceed Jupp Heynckes’ trophy haul from last season, but how to cajole a side overflowing with world-class talent into doing so.
Since his arrival in Bavaria less than a month ago, Guardiola has been peppered with questions pertaining to his plans for the treble-winning side. How will he strengthen a team already considered the best in the world? Will he implement the short-passing system that proved so fruitful in the Catalan capital?
As of yet there have been no concrete answers. Experimentation has been a regular occurrence during pre-season, but the 42-year-old is well aware that “it won’t be easy at the beginning. We need more time. We’ve worked incredibly well during the first period of preparation and we’re gradually encountering stronger opponents.”
Phase one complete
Fluid football was the trademark of Guardiola’s four-year, 14-trophy tenure with Barcelona and though his style of play has been described as “odd” by Franck Ribery, the team are getting to grips with the Spaniard’s alternative philosophy.
“As the head coach has said, we need a settling in period. Constant repetition and video analysis,” explained summer signing Jan Kirchhoff in an interview with bundesliga.com. “It’s getting better, we’re seeing the progress during our training sessions and, in part, already in our pre-season friendlies.”
Plethora of quality
Though chasing six separate trophies requires a squad capable of coping with the added physical demands, the competition for places at FC Bayern this season could make the squad troubles from their treble-winning campaign look more like a tiff at a kid’s birthday party. With no less than 19 fully-fledged internationals within his squad, the majority of whom will be hoping to feature in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Pep’s greatest challenge will be maintaining parity in his rotation policy.
However, further adding to the quality within their ranks is far from a hindrance in the eyes of sporting director Matthias Sammer, who believes the competition is healthy. “It just takes one player to make the effort to look at the calendar for this season, including the upcoming World Cup,” explained the former Borussia Dortmund head coach in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag. “If they do that then it has to be clear to everyone that without a big squad it will be impossible to handle the strain of this whole season.”
Ready or not
Only time will tell whether Pep can juggle the egos at FC Hollywood with a similar efficiency to that of his predecessor, but there’s no doubting that Guardiola is “ready for the challenge” as he attempts to prevent change being the cornerstone of his opening campaign in Bavaria.
“When a team has just won four titles, there’s not much I need to alter,” admitted Guardiola, while chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge decided not to pull any punches when it came to the team’s priority at present. “The most important thing is that we’re in the right kind of form when the Bundesliga gets underway on August 9, but I’m convinced we will be.”