Guardiola: I thought we'd need more time
On 24 June 2013, Pep Guardiola was unveiled as the new FC Bayern coach at the best-attended press conference in the history of the club. Almost four months have passed since then, and just prior to the latest international break, Guardiola and his men moved to the top of the Bundesliga for the first time this term. FCB are on track in the Champions League and DFB Cup as well, so it looks as though Guardiola and Bayern make a good team.
In the current edition of club journal Bayern Magazin, published prior to Saturday’s home meeting with Mainz, the coach speaks at length for the first time about his start at Bayern. The eight-page interview covers a wide range of topics, including Guardiola’s impressions of his squad, his new club, Philipp Lahm, the city of Munich and the sausages manufactured by the Hoeneß family business. fcbayern.de reproduces excerpts from the exclusive interview.
Pep Guardiola in the Bayern Magazin on…
…his early months as FCB coach: “To me personally, it’s not all that important to be top of the table in October - although obviously, it’s always better to be in first place. What really counts at the moment is for us to develop our playing style. It’s an ongoing process, although we’ve already come a long way, as our performances against Manchester City and Leverkusen showed. Now we want to keep it up in the weeks to come. To be very honest, I’m a little surprised at how quickly the players have taken on board my ideas. I thought we’d need considerably more time - but we’ve already reached a very, very high level, obviously not in every match and not for 90 minutes at a stretch. But halfway through the first half of the season, my initial summary would be this: I’m satisfied with what we’re doing on the field of play.”
…the weeks and months to come: “I’m convinced we’ll be even better when all the players are fit. But we’ll only be in contention for trophies at the end of the season if every player in this magnificent squad accepts my decisions. If not, we’ll have problems. I’m my players’ best friend if they accept what I say. I support players who accept my decisions - but anyone who doesn’t understand that will often find himself watching from the stands. As I keep saying: we need every one of our players, which is why I’ll be happy when we have them all back. Obviously, we’ve been playing very, very well recently. But taking the season as a whole, it’s not good if Franck Ribéry or Philipp Lahm, for example, have to play 90 minutes every three days. The more players I have available, the better I can switch things around.“
…the reasons why he opted to come to Bayern: A second after Bayern contacted me for the first time, I knew I had to do it. I didn’t want to miss the chance of working here with this great team, which the club has carefully pieced together over recent years. And if I hadn’t said yes at the time, I guess I wouldn’t have been asked again.”
…Philipp Lahm’s switch to a holding midfield role: “We’ve had a few injuries in this position, Javi Martínez and Thiago for example, and Bastian Schweinsteiger couldn’t play for a while. So I had to think of something to give us the required stability in front of defence. You’ll occasionally win games just because you have good strikers and good defenders, but consistent success is impossible unless you have excellent players in midfield. Philipp filled the holding role a couple of times in pre-season, and he did really well. In any case, he’s one of the most intelligent players in the world in my opinion, and I’m 100 percent certain he’d become one of the best in any position after a short settling-in period. Our recent good displays in Manchester and Leverkusen wouldn’t have been possible without Philipp. In normal circumstances, he’ll go back to his former position when the other players return. But it’s comforting to know I can field him in midfield as well.“
…the city of Munich: “Munich is completely different compared to New York (laughs), but I think the city is not dissimilar to Barcelona. You don’t have the sea and the beach, but it’s a very beautiful city. The most important thing to me is always that my family feel comfortable, especially my children, and they’re coming home happy and satisfied from school every evening. My wife is very pleased with life here as well. So I’m hoping I’ll be working for Bayern for a long time yet, so I can get to know the city and the region even better.”