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Returning Guardiola ready for Bayern challenge

Speaking at his first press conference as FC Bayern München coach, Josep Guardiola said he is "ready for a new challenge" but did admit to being "a little nervous".

Josep Guardiola (centre) is introduced at a press conference as the new coach of Bayern
Josep Guardiola (centre) is introduced at a press conference as the new coach of Bayern ©Getty Images

Josep Guardiola was unveiled as the successor to treble-winning FC Bayern München coach Jupp Heynckes before a packed press conference on Monday.

The 42-year-old is returning to the dugout following a 12-month sabbatical in New York after four trophy-laden seasons as FC Barcelona trainer in which he won three successive Liga titles, the UEFA Champions League in 2009 and 2011, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups. He impressed over 240 journalists by answering in German all the questions put to him.

It was back on 16 January that Guardiola was confirmed as the man to replace Heynckes, who in the final campaign of his 34-year coaching career led the Bavarian side to an unprecedented treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and European Cup triumphs.

"It is a gift to be here," explained the former Spain midfielder, whose contract runs until summer 2016. "I am happy that Bayern even thought of bringing me here. I was convinced to [come] by the players available and the club's history."

Club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: "It is a great fillip to bring the world's most successful coach to Bayern. It is a wonderful thing not only for Bayern, but for the whole of German football."

Speaking about his decision to accept Bayern's offer, Guardiola said: "I am ready for a new challenge. It was wonderful in Barcelona, but now I need a new challenge and Bayern have given me one."

Given the historic success Bayern enjoyed last term, the prevailing question in the German press has been: what is Guardiola supposed to improve? "Getting to the top is one thing, staying on top is much more difficult," said Bayern president Uli Hoeness. "I am sure he will manage. Who could, if not him?"

Guardiola, who has not yet spoken to Heynckes but intends to do so, acknowledged the 68-year-old raised the bar last season. "I have to accept the comparisons with my predecessor and live with them. You always have pressure at big clubs.

"I am a little nervous. Please give me a bit of time to take things step by step. I will try to continue the high level achieved by my predecessor, Jupp Heynckes. Every coach has his opinion of the team and the kind of football he likes. I still need more time to get to know the Bundesliga perfectly, although I watched it quite a lot in my year in New York."

Due to the "outstanding structure" in place at the Fußball Arena München, Guardiola will not make wholesale changes to the coaching staff. He also revealed that one of his assistants has been watching Bayern's youth players closely and that, after assessing them himself, he may promote one or two into the first-team squad.

In an indication of the fervour and interest surrounding his appointment, 25,000 tickets priced at €5 each (proceeds go to victims of the recent flooding in Germany) have been sold for Wednesday's training session, Guardiola's first at the helm. A similar number of supporters are expected on Thursday. It is clear that 'Pep' mania has started in Munich.

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