As an individual, I consider myself to be a person that is very process oriented. I believe the process that leads you to your outcome is much, much more important than the eventual outcome, no matter what the circumstance. It makes the end result - whether it's good, or, in some unfortunate cases, bad - easier to stomach and, more importantly, repeatable.
I like to take the "process over results" approach to life, because most of what happens every day is dependent on luck and chance. As a university student, I study to minimize the amount of "luck" I need to do well on an exam or term paper. An applicant at a firm may study the company and the questions that may come up in interview to minimize the luck he or she needs to be able to answer questions in an appropriate manner.
Unfortunately, preparation is unable to eliminate all luck. I still need to be able to piece together information from many different places to bring together the best possible answers. Then I need, in my case, the professor to view my answer as acceptable. When all those things come together, I get my desired outcome.
But knowing there is that element of luck and chance should allow you to accept whatever outcome reveals itself. Knowing you put in the work - put in the hours - should make it easier to stomach. It should also remind you that, when given a big enough sample size, the desired outcome will present itself more often that otherwise likely due to the work you have put in.
Your view of the outcome should not be dependent of whether it was positive for you or not. It should be dependent on what you did to get there. You want your steps to be fundamentally sound, and then accept the outcome, because if it's the other way around, you'll end up chasing the result, which, often times, can be misleading.
This leads me to the man currently leading our club: Josep Guardiola Sala.
A lot has been made of Guardiola's three year tenure at Bayern Munich and whether it was "successful" or not. In deciding, they look at one competition: The Champions League. They decide whether a man's influence on a team and organization was a positive one based on - in Bayern's case - 180, hopefully 90, minutes of football where anything is possible.
Take a step back for a moment an look at Bayern's history objectively, and then compare it to Guardiola's three years in charge. In the 20 years before Guardiola came to Bayern, the club made it to the semi-finals of the UCL or beyond seven times. They won twice (2001, 2013), lost in the final thrice (1999, 2010, 2012), and lost in the semi-finals twice (1995, 2000). Guardiola has made it into the semi-finals three times in three years. Making it deep into Europe was NOT a formality before his arrival, and it only happened on average about every three years.
Not only did Guardiola do it with relative ease in his first two years, but he did it with an injured squad in years two and three. Which brings me back to luck and chance. Imagine for an instance that Guardiola faces a fully healthy Barcelona squad with a fully healthy Bayern squad of his own. What happens if Robben is causing havoc on the right side, and Ribery is doing it out on the left? Or, on the opposite side, what happens if Barcelona are missing Leo Messi and Neymar, the men responsible for all 5 goals the Catalans scored?
To be even more detailed, let's take a look at one single player and his injury. On April 30th, Bayern took on Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal Semifinal. Mitch Langerak, then of BVB, defended a high ball into his box from Jerome Boateng, and, in the process, absolutely destroyed Robert Lewandowski. The Polish defender suffered an AC joint contusion, rib bruise, concussion, nasal fracture, and a fractured jaw. Seven days later, Lewandowski was in the starting line-up at the Camp Nou. In the 17th minute of a 0-0 tie, Thomas Muller beat Jori Alba on the right wing and squared the ball into the middle for Lewandowski. Lewa was late to react to it, missing the ball - and likely the opener - by mere centimeters.
Was he late to react due to his concussion? Did his face-mask impede his vision, causing him to not see the ball properly? More importantly, what happens if Bayern go up 1-0? It may have changed the entire outcome of the tie. Bayern could've gone on to win the Champions League, and we wouldn't even be having this conversation now. Are we really going to judge Guardiola's time in charge by the 2-5 centimeters between the ball and Lewandowski's foot? A lucky bounce here or a lucky call there, and ALL of this is different.
There are countless moments where a different shot location by a player, or one different pass changes the entire outcome of a game. Mario Götze in the first leg of the 2014 semi-final is another example. Had Götze found the back of the net and Bayern return to Munich with an away goal, it might have allowed Guardiola to play with a more defensive formation instead of the more aggressive and offensive 4-2-4 . Take this excerpt from Pep Confidential: Inside Pep Guardiola's First Season At Bayern Munich on his reason for the late tactical change:
They need to go out and attack hard from the first second of the game. Pep changes his mind again. The 3-4-3 had become a 4-2-3-1, but now he opts for a 4-2-4 formation. Just as he did in Dortmund in July 2013, in his debut match, he swithers between patience and passion and ends up going for passion. But it didn't work in Dortmund, and it won't work now.
Again, small details that made a huge impact on the game.
By all accounts, Guardiola is a tireless worker. A perfectionist, if you will. Unfortunately for him, no matter how much preparation he does, how much thinking he does, at the end of the day, the outcome is out of his hands. Once he submits the team sheet and sends his players onto the pitch, he has virtually no control over what happens. In one, or even two games, anything is possible. It's over the long run that the work ethic and preparation begin to pay off.
It's one reason why I don't get upset when he says the Bundesliga is more important to him than the Champions League. What happens over a span of 34 games should be more important than what happens over the span of 2 games. In 34 games, the luck starts to even out. It's why I'd put my money on Bayern over any opponent they've faced in the UCL if they played them 34 times. Over the long run, Bayern would win out.
That's not to say I'm going to be content with another early UCL exit. When Bayern take on Atletico on Tuesday I'm going to be rooting like anyone else. With passion, intensity, fire, and heart. If Bayern end up losing, trust me, I'll be as disappointed as anyone, but it doesn't diminish, in my eyes, everything else Guardiola has accomplished
In his time in Munich, Guardiola has led Bayern to 120 wins, 15 draws, and 20 losses. Don't let these next 180 minutes of play change your opinion of his time here. So when the ball gets rolling at the Vincente Calderón Stadium tomorrow at 2:45 EST, sit back, relax, and enjoy the game!