Pep Guardiola's decision to snub the Premier League for the chance to coach Bayern Munich was a surprise to many and marked a milestone for the Bundesliga. The decision for the ex-Barcelona trainer, arguably the hottest commodity on the transfer market heading into next season, to join Die Roten was a resounding vote of confidence in the Munich giants and the German league as a whole.
Some cynics still have their doubts, however, claiming Guardiola took the easiest job possible: Bayern were nine points clear of second-placed Leverkusen atop the Bundesliga table at the time of his signing, and the Bavarian giants have dominated Germany in terms of financial might.
But if Guardiola's decision was at all based on ease of the job he'd take, he made a gross miscalculation. It's never easy to take over a new club or to adapt to a new league, and Guardiola will have to do both at Bayern. Complicating matters, the incoming trainer will have an enormous burden of expectation on his shoulders.
Bayern have not only won the Bundesliga, they've won it in style. The Munich giants were crowned in record time, six games before season's end. They are 20 points clear of second-placed Dortmund, and one win in their remaining five fixtures will put them level with BVB's record for points earned in a Bundesliga season. Many, many more records either have been or probably will be broken in the coming weeks.
Tuesday's comfortable 6-1 drubbing of Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal semifinal put Bayern through to the DFB Pokal final, and with either Stuttgart or Freiburg as their opponents in Berlin, fans are expecting the domestic double.
Even in the Champions League, hopes are high. Bayern are the only side to win both their quarterfinal fixtures, and their 4-0 aggregate victory over Juventus has led many to label the Bavarians the best club in Europe.
At the very least, there is a certain amount of expectation that Bayern will make a strong showing in the semifinals against Barcelona and potentially in the final.
In terms of results, if not overall class, this could be the best Bayern ever. Never before have the Bavarian giants won a treble of titles, but now that dream is within reach.
No matter how this season ends, expectation in Munich will be sky-high when Guardiola takes over. The quality of the team he will inherit is elite, perhaps superlative in all of world football. Bayern play brilliantly under Jupp Heynckes, and fans will expect beautiful football and many trophies under Guardiola—from day one.
Guardiola has therefore taken on not an easy but instead an extremely difficult task. He will have to adapt to Bayern and their squad. And his players, who are used to working under Heynckes, will have to adapt to him. In almost every situation in which a new trainer is hired, there is a teething period. But for Guardiola, such a time is not going to be accepted.
If Guardiola's 2014 arrival had been announced last summer, he might have been seen as an incoming savior, the trainer who could lead Bayern to be the undisputed best team in the world after Heynckes' tactical failings in the 2012 Champions League final. But as it stands, the Spanish trainer is set to inherit a rich legacy.
With the most successful Bundesliga record and domestic double probable, and with a treble certainly within reach, Heynckes will be leaving Guardiola with massive shoes to fill. Far from easy, it will be exceedingly difficult for the former Barcelona trainer to meet expectations.
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