Daniel van Buyten (r.) firmly believes Bayern have taken a step up since Pep Guardiola (l.) took charge last summer
Daniel van Buyten (r.) firmly believes Bayern have taken a step up since Pep Guardiola (l.) took charge last summer

van Buyten: 'The coach is always coming up with new ideas'

Munich - As the longest serving player currently on FC Bayern München's star-studded books, veteran defender is certainly no stranger to change.

Since joining the club from Hamburger SV in June 2006, the Belgian international has worked under seven different head coaches, including present-day tactician, Pep Guardiola.

In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the 36-year-old explained what it's like to play for one of football's most sought-after strategists, as well as the changes the Catalan has made following Jupp Heynckes' retirement last summer.

bundesliga.com: Daniel van Buyten, why are Bayern so unbelievably dominant this season?

van Buyten: It's down to the culture and mentality of the club, wanting to win every game. It's in our genes. We've also played with such a high amount of possession since Pep Guardiola took charge. We dictate the play and that's definitely been one of our biggest strengths this season.

bundesliga.com: How have Bayern managed to maintain their hunger after winning the treble last season?

van Buyten: At the start of the season there was always the danger that complacency might creep in after winning pretty much everything in 2012/13, but from the moment Guardiola came in, it was all systems go. The change in coach has something to do with it, but that's not the only reason. The competition for places and high quality of the team mean we never rest on our laurels.

bundesliga.com: Have you ever played in a team with so much quality?

van Buyten: It's my eighth season at Bayern and the competition for places and quality of the squad have never been so high. When players are on the bench like Mario Götze in Wolfsburg, Xherdan Shaqiri against Arsenal or Dante and Claudio Pizarro against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, that's when you realise how strong the team is. Anywhere else, they'd be first-team regulars. I played against Leverkusen on [Matchday 25] and even though I hadn't been involved since the FIFA World Club Cup in December, I quickly found my rhythm because training's so intense and requires us to be really fit, so we're ready whenever the coach needs us.

bundesliga.com: What is it that perhaps makes the team better than last season?

van Buyten: I think the squad is a little better equipped. We all want to play. The competition for places is unbelievable, but it's healthy, and really spurs us all on.

bundesliga.com: What's the atmosphere like with such fierce competition?

van Buyten: You get lots of teams with players who don't handle competition well. Here, everyone accepts the coach's decision without making a fuss because the best players should be playing. The atmosphere is fantastic.

bundesliga.com: What changes has Guardiola made compared to Jupp Heynckes?

van Buyten: Apart from Götze and Thiago, it's the same team, but we're more dominant and see far more of the ball compared to last season. We know that as long as we've got the ball, we're always in a position to make something happen. They're both quite similar as people. Jupp always found the right words to keep us motivated, regardless of the opposition, as does Guardiola. He was also often in the office, calm at work, and Pep's just the same. They're so professional and they both have big hearts too.

bundesliga.com: You've played under many coaches at Bayern. What is it that's so special about Guardiola?

van Buyten: He doesn't leave anyone out. For example, he's telling me not to let my head drop, even though I'm not playing much. Tactically, we're more flexible than ever. The coach is always coming up with new ideas. He's meticulous and strives for perfection.

Interview by Alexis Menuge