Guardiola move a brave gambit

His decision will cause much discussion at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea had hoped to lure him after the Catalan’s sabbatical in New York. Guardiola has been mulling over his next switch, and in the end, he has plumped for what seemed the obvious, logical choice.

It is also the pure choice. The romantic choice. One of the world’s biggest clubs, the only English sides on the same level as Bayern are Manchester United and Liverpool. One of the world’s richest clubs, along with United, Arsenal, Real Madrid and Barcelona, unlike any of those, they have no debts. This is a team that takes pride in breaking even every year. There will be some at the Allianz Arena who can now justifiably stick their tongues out in mockery at Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris St Germain, whose respective oil wealth has failed to lure Guardiola to take over at their clubs next season.

Guardiola has been seduced by the history and tradition of Bayern, rather than wealth or other shallow fancies. He has been drawn in by the temptations of the challenge, the enticing opportunity to create something magical at the Allianz Arena.

Instead, Guardiola takes on a challenge to take Bayern to the next level. It is an attempt to bring them to the level of Barcelona and of Real Madrid, on that top tier of European football. They have the wealth, the size and the clout to do it. Yet it will be so much harder than at Barcelona in some ways. He has no La Masia, no Leo Messi, no Xavi or Andres Iniesta. He has no Tito Vilanova or the rest of his backroom staff.

Yet Guardiola does of course have himself, and so much of what Barcelona achieved was due to his outstanding brilliance. His attention to detail, his ability to get the team playing with 100%, not giving anything less than their all. The high pressing, high intensity passing football which they produced with such breathtaking brilliance. His was a style and a system that took the world by surprise. But a pleasant surprise. It was the greatest team of the 21st century, and possibly the best of all time.

Doing that at Bayern will not be straightforward. How will he construct his team? Bayern aren’t a million miles from Barcelona tactically, but their forwards are not the same type as he had at Barca. Mario Gomez, a pure centre forward and goalscorer, will he have a place in a Guardiola system? What about Arjen Robben, who can be infuriating sometimes with his insistence on doing everything himself?

Replicating his previous success at Bayern will be a tall ask, but if anyone is capable of it, then it is Pep Guardiola.