Pep Guardiola is pleased the Bayern Munich squad have adapted to his ideas so quickly -- but warned that anyone who fails to buy into his approach will be left in the stands.
Guardiola has made a fine start to life in Germany, with Bayern now top of the Bundesliga and having won both their Champions League games to date, and the players are adopting the focus on possession and pressing utilised by Barcelona during the coach’s time at the Camp Nou.
The Catalan is also showing signs that he is adapting to life in Germany. During his first four months, Guardiola declined to give a single interview other than the pre- and post-match interviews, which are a contractual obligation in the Bundesliga, but he has now ended his silence with an interview to Bayern’s match-day magazine.
“To be honest, I am a bit surprised at how the players have adapted to my ideas,” he said. “I thought we’d need way more time for it, but we are already on a very, very high level. I am pleased with what we’re showing out there.”
However, he warned: “We will only be fighting for titles at the end of the season if every player in this outstanding squad honours my decisions. Those who honour my decisions will get my support -- and those who don’t want to understand that will end up in the stands.”
Players including Mario Goetze, Javi Martinez and Thiago Alcantara are returning or have already returned from injuries, and Guardiola believes that is important.
“I always say that we need every single player, and that’s why I will be delighted when all of them are back on board,” he said.
With a busy schedule of games in the Bundesliga, Champions League, DFB-Pokal and Club World Cup to be played before the year is out, Guardiola said squad depth will be vital.
“It would not be good, if, for instance, Franck Ribery or Philipp Lahm have to play 90 minutes every three days,” he said. “The more players I have, the more I can change the team.”
He also said that Lahm, who has been used in holding midfielder, was likely to be used as a full-back once the players return to fitness.
“Normally, he will return to his old position,” he said, although he added that it is good to know he is capable of playing in the alternative role.
He added: “[He] is one of the most intelligent players in the world. [I am] 100 percent convinced that, after a short settling-in period, he would be among the best in the world in every position.”