Pep Guardiola’s decision to sign for Bayern Munich in the summer is a massive coup for the club, but is also a significant statement from the Bundesliga. As Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge put it: “we are sure that he can make not just Bayern, but all of German football shine”.
English fans might scratch their heads after the world’s most sought-after coach turned down our own promised land, the English Premier League, but this one has been coming.
For several years the Bundesliga’s stock had steadily, quietly risen – almost in tandem with the loud crash and crumple of Italy’s Serie A – and the foundations can be traced back to a rather rogue managerial appointment, or so it seemed, in 2004.
When Jurgen Klinsmann was named German manager he had no prior coaching experience but, together with the team he placed around him, Klinsmann revamped and remoulded the German game.
Klinsmann forged a fruitful relationship with the Bundesliga – something the Premiership and FA have consistently lacked – and two things began to change. There became a focus on producing quality players through club youth systems by restricting the number of foreign players in each squad, and, crucially, the style of play had moved to an ethos of fluent, technical excellence.
The German national team implement their philosophy with class and the generation of Schweinsteiger, Reus, Gotze and Mueller are also putting theory into practice in the league and Champions League. The evidence has been there to see: Germany’s humiliation of England’s own ‘Golden Generation’ in South Africa; Premiership champions Manchester City being thoroughly dismantled, twice, by an exciting Borussia Dortmund side earlier this season – evinced in performance if not result.
And Guardiola’s decision is the natural next step: a world class coach attracting superstar players to the fastest growing league product around. The Bundesliga is coming, and if Rummenigge is proved right then we will need more than ITV4’s Monday night highlights package to enjoy it.
image: © nathanf