Whether it was 1860 or Bayern, München has been the talk of the football town this week after the Bavarian city’s football teams grabbed the headlines with the names Eriksson and Guardiola respectively – albeit with very differing results.
1860 München guaranteed plenty of media attention for Germany’s second division by prematurely announcing ex-England boss Sven-Göran Eriksson had “joined their coaching staff” on Tuesday, only to be outstaged by their Allianz Arena neighbours 24 hours later. Bayern grabbed the football world by the scruff of the neck, and pulled off a major coup for the Bundesliga, by securing the services of ex-Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola until 2016.
The Spaniard, who turned 42 on Friday, will start the 2013/14 season as head coach, with current boss Jupp Heynckes stepping down at season’s end, just after his 68th birthday. Having spent his sabbatical season since resigning as Barcelona coach renting a New York apartment, taking classes at Columbia University and watching the offers from Europe’s top clubs roll in, Guardiola had been all set for the Premier League.
As recently as Tuesday, he was waxing lyrical about coaching in England, but 24 hours later Bayern confirmed they had their man. German tabloid Bild, credit where it’s due, had first linked Guardiola to Bayern as far back as June 2012, then on Sunday, München newspaper TZ reported his agent Jose Maria Orobitg had been seen in the city.
Die Welt reached Orobitg on Tuesday only to be told “Guardiola, FC Bayern, impossible, don’t talk!”. But it was far from an impossible marriage — 24 hours later he admitted the deal had been done as far back as December 20. The confirmation email from Bayern hit inboxes Wednesday evening with chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge hailing it a victory for Bayern and the Bundesliga.
As ex-Barcelona midfielder and former Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster has rightly pointed out, big names will follow Pep to München. While Bayern have certainly got one over their Premier League rivals by securing Guardiola’s services, the question is “why Bayern?” Guardiola will need to learn German fast, he could certainly have made more money in England, with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich reported to have offered him £18 million PER YEAR, and the pressure to succeed at Bayern will be just as great.
Chelsea’s eight managers in the last five-and-a-half years may have put him off, but he will not have an easier ride in south Germany. Despite having steered Germany to third at the 2006 World Cup on home soil, Jürgen Klinsmann lasted ten months before he was sacked in Apil 2009 with his team second in the league.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal was sacked in April 2011 having won the German domestic double AND reached the 2010 Champion League final the season before – personal differences with president Uli Hoeness meant he was shown the door. Then, Felix Magath was fired in February 2007 with his team fourth even though he had won the league and cup in the previous two seasons.
Unless Heynckes finishes his third stint as Bayern boss by winning a title, Guardiola will be under pressure to end München’s wait for a title which stretches back to May 2010.
Orobitg has said Guardiola opted for Bayern: “because of all the teams that made him offers, it was the best project. Bayern weren’t the club which offered the most money. Guardiola chose the club for its organisation, for the potential he sees and for the players.”
His immaculate record of two Champions League with Barca will need to be translated to south Germany sooner rather than later. Guardiola has certainly not been recuited to make sure Bayern dominate the German Cup.
Over at 1860 Munich, chaos reigned as the club on Tuesday announced Eriksson would join the coaching staff, only for the Swede to say ‘No, I won’t!’ on Friday.
Having watched three 1860 games in December, Eriksson had long been linked to München’s other football club, but a lack of contact meant he cooled on the subject.
Long story short: the club’s Jordanian investor wanted him as head coach, but the supervisory board didn’t want to eject current coach Alexander Schmidt, who had only taken charge in November.
Subsequently, Monday’s seven-hour meeting of the supervisory board finished at 3am on Tuesday when reporters were told Eriksson would work alongside Schmidt. The only problem was: no one had told Sven.
The first hint of trouble came Tuesday afternoon when Swedish tabloid Expressen carried Eriksson quotes saying he had so far heard nothing from the club, then Friday he backed away completely.
“Since the first contact with the club in November, some time has passed and we all know how fast paced is the professional football business,” he said in a statement.
“Therefore I ask all parties to respect my decision. I wish my friend Hasan Ismaik and TSV 1860 München every success for the future.”
With Guardiola now busy learning German in New York in anticipation of his start on July 1 and Eriksson walking away from 1860, it’s been a heck of a week for München.
Follow AFP’s Bundesliga man Ryland James on twitter @rylandjames