Hold the front page! After results have been counted and verified, we can confirm that Bayern Munich's Jupp Heynckes is currently the best-performing head coach in Europe. And, yes, he's even outdoing Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola!

Heynckes' record in his first 13 Bundesliga matches since returning to the hot seat at the start of October reads a continent-leading 36 points from a possible 39. Not a perfect haul - a Matchday 13 defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach put paid to that - but still one point more in the self-same period than the man whose appointment as Bayern coach precipitated the wily strategist's retirement almost five years ago.

Watch: Jupp Heynckes reviews Bayern's 5-2 drubbing of Hoffenheim on Matchday 20

Five months prior to the completion of an unprecedented Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup treble under Heynckes in 2012/13, Bayern had already tied down Guardiola to a three-year deal, starting summer 2013. Young, progressive, the brains behind one of the most successful Barcelona teams in history and a free agent, he was cherry-picked to take the record German champions to another level. The self-styled tactics pedant didn't disappoint - at least not domestically.

Bayern clinched the first of three Bundesliga titles on Guardiola's watch in record time - with six games to spare, bettering the previous campaign by one. The Reds finished 19 points clear of their nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2013/14 and 10 ahead of Wolfsburg and Dortmund in 2014/15 and 2015/16 respectively. They also captured the DFB Cup twice, but Champions League glory eluded them.

Bayern were dominant under Pep Guardiola, but not quite as dominant as Heynckes' treble winners. © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Guardiola joined Man City after three years in the Bavarian capital, handing down a supremely advanced set of players, schooled in the art of short passing and ball possession. The manner in which they controlled matches had not been seen before and was too great a standard to uphold even for decorated successor Carlo Ancelotti - though the Italian did oversee last season's Bundesliga triumph, before departing under a cloud of disquiet in September 2017.

By their previously untouchable performance levels, Bayern were tottering into uncharted territory. A defeat to Hoffenheim coupled with a pair of 2-2 draws against Wolfsburg and Hertha Berlin meant Ancelotti's replacement would have the task of overturning a five-point deficit on then leaders Dortmund. There was also the little matter of restoring pride to the ranks after a deflating 3-0 loss to Paris-Saint Germain in the group stage of the Champions League. No pressure, then...

The dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti paved the way for Heynckes' surprise return. © imago / kolbert-press

Hoffenheim's Julian Nagelsmann and former Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel - two self-professed Guardiola acolytes - were seen as the front runners, but Bayern decided to throw a curveball. Aged 72 and having been retired for over four years, during which time the Bayern blue print had evolved considerably, Heynckes was charged with turning the tide. Suffice to say his bolt-from-the-blue reinstatement has had the desired effect.

Seizing the Bayern reins for the fourth time as a coach, Heynckes has masterminded 12 wins from 13 Bundesliga outings, with 33 goals scored and only 10 conceded. The defending champions have also knocked out RB Leipzig and Dortmund en route to the DFB Cup quarter-finals, avenged their autumn loss in Paris and - most impressively of all - opened up a seemingly unassailable 16-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga standings after 20 matches. No team in Europe - not even Guardiola's English Premier League pacesetters Man City - can claim to have such a sizeable advantage over their nearest pursuers.

Heynckes made history in his last stint at the Bayern helm, not just in terms of silverware, but by posting a record points haul for a single Bundesliga campaign (91). A maximum return from his remaining 14 league assignments in charge would set a new best-mark and take his personal record to 164 wins in a Bundesliga dugout. No wonder the Bayern hierarchy are trying to persuade their ever-dependable redeemer to stay on beyond the summer; he's Europe's best.

Chris Mayer-Lodge

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