Recently, thanks to a Google alert, I decided to browse through the comments section of an article titled "All-Star: Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola defends his refusal to shake hands with MLS coaches" on the MLS website.
I was quite astonished by the vitriol directed at Pep Guardiola as well as Bastian Schweinsteiger. I expected the negative reactions but any reaction which even mildly praised Guardiola, Schweinsteiger or Bayern seemed to be receiving negative reactions. Before I delve into the grander narrative, it is important to point out that Guardiola was angered by the fact that his star midfielder had been at the receiving end of what was perhaps a "professional foul" less than 24 hours after he landed in Portland.
He refused to shake the visibly apologetic opposition coach, Caleb Porter's hands and, as evidenced in the article link above, he refused to acknowledge the fact that he had indeed seen Porter approach him. To be honest, Pep's vision would have to be blurry (has anyone seen him wearing glasses?) to not see Porter chase him across the pitch to shake his hand.
Guardiola has been called "classless" and Bastian has been compared to "teenage girls". Basti, it must be mentioned, has not been tackled since Argentina tried to literally kick him out of the pitch in the World Cup Final. His body immediately felt the impact of returning to action as he was at the end of a harsh foul by a player who is already in mid season form.
Guardiola's anger is understandable; this is preseason. He needs Basti when Bayern face Real to dominate the midfield and take Toni Kroos (sorry, can't help it) out of the game. The All-Stars and the MLS fans have to understand that Bayern has much bigger and grander things to tend to than just an All-Star game, which, at the end of the day, is nothing more than a marketing pitch.
To move back to where we started, lets go back to 2012. Bayern headed out of Europe during the Winter Break. They came back tired and effectively handed over the title to Borussia Dortmund with their weary performances. The trip was considered unnecessary and it was, by all means, exactly that. Trentino or Munich itself would have suited them perfectly.
This is of course not the Winter Break. Bayern has returned to America after a long break from the continent. Any move which sees them earn more fans and hence, more money, is good. After all, the English clubs regularly sell themselves to the continent of basketball, American football and baseball.
Yet, does Bayern need more money? They won the treble without needing any help from funding from overseas. They are doing perfectly well financially, playing within all the rules set by FFP, and not nearly in danger of breaking any of them. This trip was an opportunity for Bayern to expand their brand and earn more fans but nothing more. They did so because their marketing crew felt this was a perfect time to show off the World Cup winners of 2014 and the UEFA Champions League winners of 2013.
What they did not count on of course was the bruising of Bastian's ankle as well as Pep's reaction.
Bayern already has a large fan base. Their games are sold out on a regular basis. Their fans are attracted to them by their history, traditions and of course, the medals from various golden generations. Having more fans is great but Bayern does not really need a larger fan base.
Overall, while this trip would have helped the club's image by endearing them to American fans, it would not really help them overturn the 4-0 result at the Allianz Arena against Real Madrid last season.
Bayern does not need to return to the US. Bayern does not need to sell themselves. Considering the conclusion of this trip and the injuries which might have occurred, Bayern would do well to think twice before deciding to take another trip to the US in any upcoming seasons. Because at the end of the day, if Schweinsteiger's injury had turned out to be more than what it turned out to be, Bayern would be at risk of losing much more than they would have gained by a trip to the US, namely titles.
The title count at the end of the season matters. "Handshake-Gate" will be forgotten very quickly if Bayern beats Dortmund in the Supercup and goes on to reclaim the UEFA Champions League. It is a stain on Pep's image definitely but it is nothing which should bother Bayern very much.