Replacing the man who had led Bayern to an unprecedented treble success of the League, cup and European Cup was never going to be easy. Pep Guardiola’s appointment was widely seen as a good choice because in him, Bayern could boast the most successful manager of the last decade, a flexible and astute tactician and one of the best young coaches around. While Guardiola failed to deliver another treble (Awful!!), Bayern Munich had a fun ride under him, breaking numerous records along the way. Bayern became the first German side to win the title in March, their run of 19 consecutive wins is a Bundesliga record, as was Bayern’s run of 10 consecutive away wins. Bayern also went an impressive 53 games without defeat stretching back to Heynckes’ final season which is a bundesliga record, and broke the average possession record set the previous season. Not bad eh? Pep won 4 out of 6 trophies in his first season, and despite getting a lot of criticism for their ‘tiki taka’ robotic approach, Bayern scored the most goals from headers and corners, scored the most goals per shot and didn’t concede a goal from the counter until the 27th game week.
Explaining his philosophy and system, he said
Interviewer: It’s obviously working very well for you, but could you give me an idea of your principles or strategy of how you’d like Bayern to play?
Pep: I am a trainer at a big club and we have to play for respect, for history, and try to play as well as possible for our fans. The big clubs always have to be offensive no matter the style. The idea is to try and dominate the game and to play as well as possible. That’s all, It’s simple.
Interviewer: You have the highest average possession rate in Europe, do you look at that statistic and look at the quality of where the possession is on the field?
Pep: Possession is important when you create chances, so possession for itself is nothing. We try to have the possession in front because sometimes you have loads of possession but do not create chances, just to defend and defend, because when you have possession, you have the ball and it is impossible the opponent can score a goal. Also If you have a high percentage of possession you have to be organized when you lose the ball, to not receive counterattacks from the opponents. But I like possession because I like it when my team has the ball, but always you have to try to have good possession because i repeat possession for itself is nothing.
Interviewer: Do you like to have possession higher up the pitch?
Pep: Yeah, I like to have possession(higher up the pitch) because when the ball is far away from our box I am happy, I am calm, I am not nervous, but when the ball step by step is closer to my box i start trembling. So that’s why i prefer to put the ball far away as possible.
Interviewer: What’s the importance to you as the coach of the tempo at which the game is played? The speed?
Pep: I will like to play in a high high speed. To change the rhythm you must play at a huge speed, because It’s only when you play with a huge speed that you can change the rhythm. You have to try to stay aggressive without the ball and with the ball we try to play quickly but in the right moment to make a change in rhythm.
Interviewer: Is it important to you that players can interchange the position they play in?
Pep: I like to (inter)change. We need intelligent players to know when to change position, when another player you know can use this position. I like it more when the ball goes to the position of the players more than the players moving a lot. So maybe in the future the players can understand better what we’re looking and for the natural way they (inter)change but in the beginning it’s better to stay in the position and try to move the ball as quick as possible and go to the positions where you have the players
Interviewer: How far are the players from grasping your ideas?
Pep: Far away. Far away is not true but, we played five, six, seven games at a huge huge level. We have played unbelievably just for six/seven months in Bayern. But regularly we’ve played okay, three minutes, twenty minutes but not constantly, but it’s normal. We change little things from ideas, and I need time. But during the process however, it’s important to win because you have more time to work. During the process if you are new and you don’t win it’s more difficult to change quickly, but still I am in a period to adapt and to know the players and for them to know me. I feel we’re still in a process to getting better and it’s easier when the results are good.”