Pep Guardiola is a manager that genuinely needs no introduction, and his time at Bayern Munich was well decorated despite not being able to go the distance in the UEFA Champions League.
Guardiola led Bayern to three Bundesliga titles and two DFB-Pokals, but fell short in the Champions League, losing in the semi-finals three separate times. The possession-based brand of football he established at Bayern was easy on the eye and an absolute joy to watch at its best, but former sporting director Matthias Sammer explained in a recent interview what didn’t work with Pep at Bayern. Sammer served as Bayern’s sporting director from 2013 to 2016 before becoming an advisor for rivals Borussia Dortmund.
Guardiola has often been accused by pundits of over-thinking and over-analyzing certain matches, especially when it comes to the latter stages of the Champions League. In a recent interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (via SportBild), Sammer noted that he felt this slightly held Bayern back a bit when Guardiola was manager. “Pep was always right with his analyses, his measures almost always worked out exactly as planned. As a result, the team stopped thinking a bit,” the former Bayern sporting director explained.
In a sense, Sammer highlighted the control that Guardiola likes to have with the football that’s being played on the pitch down to every last detail, no matter how small. In Sammer’s eyes, Bayern would’ve perhaps been a bit better off had Guardiola given a bit more leeway to the players themselves to work out some of the finer, final details in how the game was played under his systems. Had that been the case, he feels that Bayern could’ve kicked in to an even higher gear and perhaps have won the Champions League during his tenure. “At the end of this fantastic process, he didn’t let the team grow so that they could take the last steps on their own. [Pep] didn’t manage to activate the last two percent in Munich,” Sammer explained.
Even at Manchester City, the Champions League has evaded Guardiola’s grasp, despite having made the final in Porto last year (lost 1-0 to Chelsea). Sammer sees that over-complication and over analysis of details as the main difference between Guardiola and coaches like Jupp Heynckes or Ottmar Hitfeld at Bayern. “The great secret of leaders like Ottmar Hitzfeld or Jupp Heynckes was that they enabled teams to be independent in this way,” he surmised.