Niko Kovac is tailor-made for the head coach's job at Bayern Munich, according to defensive specialist Javi Martinez.
Kovac, who took up the position in July, is a former Bayern player and has already claimed his first piece of silverware at the helm of Germany’s most successful club, overseeing the 5-0 drubbing of his previous employers Eintracht Frankfurt in the Supercup.
"He's got some characteristics of Jupp [Heynckes], some of Pep [Guardiola]," Martinez, 29, said of Kovac. "The preparations were tough and intense, but that’s exactly what we need. You could see in the Supercup against Frankfurt that we’re all fit. Only once before have I experienced a more intense pre-season: Marcelo Bielsa at Athletic Bilbao. Sometimes we trained for three-and-a-half hours."
Watch: Bayern put five past Frankfurt without reply in the Supercup
Bayern haven’t clocked up quite as many pre-season minutes - as far as we know - but they are already firing on all cylinders. The defending Bundesliga champions outplayed 2018 DFB Cup winners Frankfurt from start to finish in the Supercup, laying down an ominous marker for the coming campaign. As ever, Martinez - entering his seventh season as a Bayern player - is hungry for more.
"When you play for Bayern, you want to win every title, but the only way to win titles is to look at things game by game," Martinez - fast approaching 200 competitive appearances in Bayern colours - explained. "That’s why I’m not thinking too much about titles yet."
Not that Martinez can avoid the subject. The Spaniard’s personal collection since he joined Bayern from Bilbao in summer 2012 comprises six Bundesliga titles, the 2013 UEFA Champions League, the 2013 UEFA Super Cup, the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup, three DFB Cups and three German Supercups. That’s at least one piece of silverware per season for a player who has a habit of making himself indispensable to whoever patrols the Bayern dugout.
"The best players in the world play at Bayern, so competition for places is obviously very high," said Martinez, who turns 30 in September. "For me, it’s an honour to have been here for six years. It’s a result of my hard work. I can’t think of a better team than Bayern Munich. I’m very happy here. I miss my family, but it feels like home."