With Bayern München confirming that coach Josep Guardiola will step down in the summer, Justin Schroll asks what impact the news might have on the German champions' season.
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Bayern München surprised few on Sunday morning when they confirmed that coach Josep Guardiola will be leaving in the summer after three years at the helm. Eyebrows were hardly raised either when the German champions named Carlo Ancelotti as his replacement, but although many saw this coming, what impact might the news have on Bayern?
Often a club can suffer when it becomes known that their coach is scheduled to depart. Sir Alex Ferguson famously announced that he would step down as Manchester United manager ahead of the 2001/02 season, only to change his mind midway through the campaign and label that decision "an absolute disaster" after his team's poor start.
Bayern have had a different experience, however – the exact opposite even. That was certainly how it seemed in 2012/13 when Jupp Heynckes declared during the winter that he would be stepping down after the final ball of the season was kicked. Instead of wobbling, his team seemed to gain added impetus, going on to win a Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League treble – a collection of titles Guardiola and Co are striving for again this term.
"It's a bad season if we don't win the treble," Guardiola said at the beginning of November. "I know where I am; it's similar to Barcelona. We have to keep winning, winning and winning." Indeed, that winning mentality is part of the 44-year-old's nature, and he is unlikely to let his standards slip over the next six months. On the contrary, he and his players – Bundesliga winners for the last two seasons – will surely continue pulling together.
A case in point is Thomas Müller, who is refusing to be distracted by the news. For Müller, success on the pitch is all that matters. "We don't care, we just want to win everything this year," said the forward. "And we won the treble the year that Jupp Heynckes' contract expired."
The club's chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is similarly buoyant for the rest of the season, having laid out an optimistic prognosis for 2015/16 after expressing his gratitude to the departing coach. "I'm convinced that Pep and the team will now work harder than ever to achieve their ambitions, particularly because it has now been confirmed that Pep will leave FC Bayern," he noted in a press release.
Meanwhile, sporting director Matthias Sammer believes the announcement came at "just the right time, as you need time to plan ahead as a club. We chose this moment because things are fairly quiet at the moment. With regards to contracts, we're at a point where we needed to make a decision. Now we'll do everything we can to be successful between now and the end of the season."
One man sure to be watching with interest is Ancelotti, who passed on his own message of support after expressing his delight at agreeing a three-year contract. "I honestly wish FC Bayern München and my friend Pep Guardiola the best for the current season," he explained, even if a trophy clean sweep would raise expectations ahead of his own tenure. After all, he could find yet himself becoming the second consecutive Bayern coach to follow on from a treble winner.