Let me start with a disclaimer: I am a huge Pep Guardiola fanboy. I admired his work at FC Barcelona, and was always amazed at how high of a level of skill and quickness he was able to get his players to play, and I remember dreaming about Pep coming to FC Bayern Munich one day.
A guy can dream, can't he?
The seed was planted in my head somewhere around the 2011/12 season, when Pep was still coaching Barca, hurrying from one title to the next with his All-Star ensemble. Barcelona was visiting Bayern's headquarters at the Säbener Straße (can't remember why), and he was given a tour of the facilities (FC Bayern's official website posted a video about it). He looked interested and impressed, which is understandable, as anyone can see that Bayern Munich is a serious, well-run club, with an excellent environment for players to be successful.
OMG, OMG, he's coming to Bayern!!!
Then, in 2013, when rumors were swirling around about Jupp Heynckes' future, and whether he would extend his contract (prior to winning the triple, of course), and Guardiola was taking time off, living in New York City, on a year-long sabbatical, it looked like all the stars were aligning, and I almost wet my pants when it was announced that the Spaniard was coming to Munich.
Pep's accomplishments ... and his shortcomings
Fast forward two-and-a-half years, and Guardiola now has five titles with the Bavarian giants (Bundesliga x2, DFB Pokal, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup), but the big one has eluded him so far, having lost both times in the Champions League semifinals, each time to the eventual champions.
Today, it was announced that Guardiola has decided to not extend his contract, which expires on June 30th, 2016, and will be succeeded by Carlo Ancelotti. Speculation had been rampant on what Pep was going to do next, and Bayern's management had shown some optimism that the coach would stay for a little while longer, even while rumors were going around that he was on his way to Manchester City (still not confirmed).
Would I have liked for Pep to stay longer? Absolutely! The team seems to be clicking, the players having ingrained themselves with the coach's vision of how football needs to be played, and, when healthy, has looked damn near unstoppable. It appears ridiculous that Pep is leaving now, with the team humming along, and seemingly poised to dominate in Europe. They could very well win the CL title this season (the Bundesliga seems like a formality, and the DFB Pokal is still on track as well), and with the current core of the team could easily become the first team to repeat in the CL.
So, why is Pep leaving a good thing?
All indications are that, had Pep decided to stay longer, it would have only been for one year (he did the same in Barcelona). Carlo Ancelotti was available now, and was already being courted by some of the bigger clubs. If Pep stayed through the 2016/17 season, the Italian would have been long gone, as he had said himself that he was itching to get back in the game, after his year off following his termination from Real Madrid. One of the big money clubs would have rolled out the red carpet, heaped obscene amounts of money on him, and he would have been off the market when Bayern would be initiating their coaching search two summers from now.
None of the potential candidates, be it Jose Mourinho (I just threw up in my mouth), Jurgen Klopp (he has his hands full at Liverpool), Thomas Tuchel (ditto at Dortmund), Lucien Favre (buddies with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, but abandoning Gladbach doesn't look good), or a less experienced guy in the mold of Markus Weinzierl (successful at a small club, huge risk in taking over a star-studded club), none of these coaches come even close to the pedigree of Carlo Ancelotti (titles in Italy, England, France and Spain, including three CL trophies, a reputation for knowing how to deal with big egos, and tactically flexible).
Was a one-year deal ever on the table?
And here is the conspiracy theory angle on the whole thing: did Bayern even offer a one-year extension to Guardiola, considering the opportunity to sign Ancelotti? Would they have only accepted a two or three year deal with their current coach, which he probably wasn't considering? Was this a repeat of the rumored situation in 2013, where Heynckes was supposedly interested in coaching one more year before retiring, but Bayern management recognized that they had to sign Pep immediately, or risk losing him to another club, thereby gently pushing the future triple-winning coach out the door? We'll never know unless we kidnap Rummenigge and tickle his feet with feathers until he spills the beans, but the only thing I can say right now is, "Go get 'em, Pep, show them what a mistake Bayern made!", and "Forza, Carlo!".