When Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes passes on the torch to Pep Guardiola this summer, the veteran trainer will leave enormous shoes for the Spaniard to fill.
Heynckes' Bayern have broken record after record in the Bundesliga this season and are on pace to win a treble.
Especially given that the Bavarians recently hammered the very Barcelona that Guardiola built by a 7-0 margin in the Champions League, it's very much uncertain whether the incoming trainer will be able to keep Bayern at their current level. But the Bavarians made their decision in January to pursue Guardiola without considering renewing Heynckes' deal.
It's not just the possible level of success that may differ between Bayern under Heynckes and Guardiola, but the the entire way the club operates.
It's unknown exactly how the incoming trainer intends to play, and he certainly will join Bayern older and wiser than he was when he left Barcelona last summer. But based on his previous tenure, he is likely to bring a whole new set of strengths and weaknesses to the club.
Click "Begin Slideshow" for an in-depth analysis of how Guardiola differs from Heynckes, from tactics to transfers to leadership.
The age gap between Heynckes, who turns 68 on Thursday, and the 42-year-old Guardiola speaks volumes. The latter has, in fairness, just about as much experience as one could hope for from a trainer who has practiced his trade for just four years at senior level.
Heynckes, though, blows Guardiola out of the water in terms of experience. The veteran began his career in management at Gladbach the year after he retired from playing football, in 1979, and has coached in all but two of the last 34 years.
Whereas Guardiola has worked only at Barcelona, Heynckes has experience at Gladbach, Bayern, Bilbao, Frankfurt, Tenerife, Real Madrid, Benfica, Schalke and Leverkusen. He's enjoyed success at a high level at multiple clubs, having won the Bundesliga with Bayern and the Champions League with Real. And this season he could make it a treble with Bayern.
Guardiola has overcome every hurdle he's faced thus far, but experience is something that only comes with time. And four years' experience just isn't enough to match what Heynckes has to offer in decades of wisdom.
Guardiola's initial success at Barcelona had a similar foundation to that of Heynckes' current Bayern: Both philosophies promote stifling defense, albeit in different ways.
Adapted from the traditional Dutch model, Guardiola's game plan was to make the pitch as short as possible to in order to emphasize Barca's technical superiority. The center-backs played near the midfield line, both full-backs were almost always advanced, and Barca would aim to keep the play exclusively in their opponents' half.
Whenever Barca gave away the ball, their forwards, midfielders and defenders would press aggressively to win back the ball immediately or at least force a harried clearance. The only risk was that if opponents did have time to pick out a pass, there were acres of space between the Barca defense and goal.
Heynckes' Bayern play a different style of pressing, one that is more balanced and based on containment. Defending in their own half is somewhat more of a risk in that it does put the opponents closer to their goal, but Bayern are rather comfortable keeping their opponents out of shooting range while in their attacking half.
Bayern defend in a more classic sense, and it's rare that opponents get between the back line and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
What makes Heynckes' system so special is how every player defends. If an opponent tries to run up the flank, he will have a full-back and winger to take on, and often striker Mario Mandzukic as well. If he tries a move in the center, the entire Bayern team descends upon him, swarming to win the ball back.
The hallmark of Guardiola's system at Barcelona and perhaps the most iconic tactical innovation of the last decade is the possession-based style known as "tiki-taka."
With Xavi and Andres Iniesta pulling the strings in midfield, Barca were able to maintain possession for extended periods, dominating time on the ball and thus limiting opponents' chances.
Using a team of primarily smaller, not-very-physical players, Guardiola found a way for his team to defend without defending and pressure opponents into submission.
It was sometimes mesmerizing how Barca would quick-pass their way through defenses and score at will. In other cases, it was impressive how the FCB midfield could frustrate opponents by almost effortlessly passing the ball in triangles near the center circle.
Heynckes' attacking system is altogether different from that of Guardiola. Whereas Pep's Barcelona typically operated through the center, Bayern spread the ball from the middle to the wide areas, and then they bring it back to the interior again. In fact, five of the seven goals Bayern scored against Barca in their recent tie followed play from out wide.
In addition to using the full width of the pitch, Heynckes' Bayern use a wider variety of attacking methods than did Guardiola's Barca. The fact that their defense plays deeper means that Bayern can counterattack more and they can play out wide and through the center, using dribbling, through balls and crosses both high and low.
Guardiola's Barca were brilliant at their game, unstoppable in most situations. But it was a largely one-dimensional attack. Heynckes' Bayern are not particularly legendary in any one aspect, but the sum of their abilities is breathtakingly devastating.
Ibrahimovic never truly settled at Barcelona.
If there is any valid criticism of Pep Guardiola, it's his performance in the transfer market. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a resounding failure, and a pricey one at nearly €70 million. Dmytro Chygrinskiy did nothing to justify his €25 million price tag, Alexis Sanchez cost €1 million more and has struggled, while Cesc Fabregas remains a €34 million bench-warmer. Even David Villa, Spain's all-time leading scorer, has not replicated his Valencia form since moving to Catalonia.
While Guardiola broke the bank for attacking and midfield reinforcements, he largely ignored the serious problems that awaited in defense as the end of Carles Puyol's career approached.
Lionel Messi's brilliance was able to mask Barca's flaws for quite some time, but their 7-0 aggregate loss to Bayern in the Champions League semifinals this year can largely be blamed on a failed transfer policy that started with Guardiola.
Jupp Heynckes is very much different from his successor in this respect.
The trainer has rarely had substantial time and resources to build a squad, but what he's done at Bayern since 2011 is rather extraordinary. Manuel Neuer was a resounding success from day one, and Javi Martinez, Mario Mandzukic and Dante have all performed above expectations this season. Even Xherdan Shaqiri and Claudio Pizarro have, in their limited playing time, done very well.
All in all, Heynckes' only failures were Rafinha, Nils Petersen and loanee Takashi Usami, who cost approximately €8.5 million total. Jerome Boateng has perhaps underperformed, but is worth his €13.5 million value as a squad player.
Heynckes has a great understanding of the fine points in squad building, and it's particularly impressive that he identified a need for a new holding midfielder after last season's Champions League final loss to Chelsea.
That result may have suggested the need for more depth and quality in defense, but he knew his team well and—despite playing without Holger Badstuber for most of the season—Bayern have been outstanding in defense. And although it cost €40 million to sign him, Martinez has been outstanding—Just what Heynckes anticipated, it should be noted.
Apart from his performance in the transfer market, the other criticism that can be made of Guardiola is his poor management of egos within his Barca squad.
The most obvious example is the case of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had a very public row with the ex-Barca trainer during his brief stay at Camp Nou and still harbors hard feelings towards his former coach.
Guardiola also was perhaps too lenient with Lionel Messi, allowing the Argentine forward to play almost every minute of every game, even when Barca were in little danger of dropping points. The trainer fostered Messi's unhealthy attitude, and the player's haughtiness in insisting on playing while injured cost Barca dearly in their recent humiliation against Bayern. Although it was Tito Vilanova who allowed Messi to play, Messi surely insisted on his inclusion, and the genesis of that attitude was enabled by Guardiola.
Barcelona were so successful under Guardiola that there were few true problems for the trainer to deal with. As he joins "FC Hollywood," he still has something to prove in terms of his ability to overcome adversity and manage ego and morale in the dressing room.
Heynckes, in his old age, seems to have figured out how to manage egos within his team. His players are selfless, and give everything for the team. Even Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben track back these days; a few years ago, that would have been unthinkable.
It took Heynckes a very long time to get a team of individuals to play so selflessly, but such advantages often come with decades of experience.
Apart from his tactics, Guardiola's strongest point at Barcelona was his ability to inspire his team to play at their best. As a player, he was enormously successful and very well decorated. Xavi played with him at Barca and for the Spanish national team and looked up to Pep as a role model. When Guardiola, a Catalonia native, became coach of Barcelona, he instantly had the unwavering support of his players.
Guardiola will not have the benefit of being a local when he joins Bayern, but the support of his players will certainly match that he enjoyed at Barca. Now that he has established himself as one of, if not the premier coach in world football, any club he joins is a magnet for stars. Mario Gotze, for example, turned down a transfer to Bayern a year ago but agreed to a move to Munich following Pep's confirmation as head coach.
Heynckes never quite reached godlike status as a trainer, his trophy count is modest given the decades for which he's plied his trade. Through most of his career, he hasn't had support from his players on the level of Guardiola or Jose Mourinho.
This season, however, Heynckes' impending retirement has perhaps inspired Bayern to do more for the outgoing trainer. A perfect retiring present, the treble has been a dream all season long. And now it's entirely achievable. It's a shame it took this long for Heynckes to garner such support from his players, but better late than never.