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Jun 28, 2013

The whole world watches Pep's first steps

He may have a lot to prove after replacing Jupp Heynckes, but Bayern Munich's new manager has already won over some new fans

Getting ready to head in to the weekend with friendlies against Wildenau Fan Club on Saturday, and TSV Regen on Sunday (both available with subscription to FCB.tv), new manager Pep Guardiola spent the first two training days with Bayern Munich at very public sessions in the Allianz Arena.  Broadcast on Sport1 and FCB.tv, the sessions gave the world a glimpse in to the mind of Guardiola, and a harbinger of things to come for the 2013-14 season.

"Organized" and "communicative" were the plaudits for Bayern's new trainer as he put the team through their paces.  Thomas Mueller said Guardiola's German “works 80 percent of the time,"  the Catalan only resorting to English when at loss for a German word.

Day one started with a complex passing drill which Guardiola initiated -- never missing a pass himself -- putting players through their paces, and stopping to correct and offer advice as necessary, and finished with short passing practice and strength-building.  While day two was more a stamina-building affair with jumps, hurdles and sprints, what will likely be a daily short passing segment, and finally a bit of 11-on-11.

-Lahm impressed with Guardiola's methods -Ribery signs new contract

So yeah, it's just regular practice, and what's so special about that?  Well, not much really.  Except for the fact that it's televised!  Even AZ has been running a live ticker on practices!  If you are not lucky enough to live in Munich, or visit often, this season gives fans an unprecedented look-in to what makes Bayern Munich tick.

Of course, all the Bayern fan boys and girls (myself included) used these training sessions to gossip on Twitter:  Who's getting a talking-to?  Jerome Boateng, for not taking the initial exercise seriously.  Who doesn't look fit?   Toni Kroos (expected after a long rehab).  Who needs a haircut?  Mitch Weiser, who now looks like Beavis.

The practices also gave fans a chance to see some team favorites for (possibly) the last time as Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is practicing until his contract ends at the end of the month, and Mario Gomez is still officially under contract.  Funny that the only Mario at practice is the one who doesn't want to be there, with Mario Mandzukic temporarily out and Mario Goetze not officially part of the team until Sunday.

Franck Ribery, who just extended his contract to 2017, was asked by Guardiola if he'd be interested playing the No 10 spot.  And rumors are rife about positional changes in the team: Javi Martinez as central defender?  Philipp Lahm in the midfield with a 3-5-2 setup?  This preseason gives Bayern supporters plenty to talk about as everyone will now be able to see the evolution of this team.  Live.

Over the last couple of days, perhaps to me the most striking aspect of this is the awe and reverence that everyone has for Pep Guardiola.  From the players and front office -- so often scrutinized and well-used to a media storm from the press worldwide, everyone looks a little star-struck and humbled when they communicate with him.

For a club as massive as Bayern Munich, it's a strange -- yet wonderful -- new experience.  Now only time will tell if Pep can change this treble-winning team in to his treble-winning team.  While the whole world watches.