It’s hard to call a season with titles in both the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal as well as a Champions League semifinal appearance a disappointment.
Yet that was exactly the case for Bayern Munich last season under then-manager Pep Guardiola.
It’d have been catastrophic if Bayern didn’t win the league, but just because they did didn’t mean the season was successful; without Champions League gold, it wasn’t.
Guardiola and the club both agreed with that, and away he went to Manchester City.
Bayern Munich supporters would’ve been hard-pressed to find someone as capable of succeeding under that kind of pressure as Guardiola, however they not only have that now with new manager Carlo Ancelotti, but they also have a man whose style and philosophy perfectly fits the club. He puts them in the best position to return to the top.
“A lot of people ask about the pressure; I am used to it,” said Ancelotti. “I don’t feel (it).”
Ancelotti has done it before. In 2014 he won the Champions League with a Real Madrid team that had arguably the most talent on the planet but had drastically underperformed for several seasons in a row. He did that in his debut season with Los Blancos, which included a 5-0 drubbing on aggregate of Bayern in the semis of the tournament as well as a Copa Del Rey final victory over Barcelona.
He is the Phil Jackson of international soccer; he knows how to handle the egos of superstars while at the same time utilizing tactics and strategies that play to their strengths.
Guardiola did not do the latter. He tried to bring his tiki-taka over from Barcelona which pits players close together in attempts to dominate possession. While it turned the Catalonian side into a dynasty, it did not however fit Bayern Munich.
Ancelotti on the other hand spaces out his attackers and utilizes the entire field. That will benefit his world-class and lightning-quick wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry.
“He is a world-class coach,” said Robben. “This can only be an advantage for us.”
Robert Lewandowski, the leading goal scorer for the club and in all of Germany last season, will also serve to benefit from Ancelotti. Lewandowski is far from just a target in the box; he has the pace to lead the counterattack down the middle of the pitch and Ancelotti will give him the freedom to do it.
Ancelotti is also now reunited with Xabi Alonso, who was the quarterback for his Real Madrid side out of the defensive midfield.
There was nothing more beautiful in the world of soccer than when Alonso would send a long ball over the top to Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or Benzema who would all come flying down the field on a counter, maintaining fantastic organization while at the same time becoming more and more of a threat with every step.
Expect Ancelotti to create the same beauty and success in Munich.