Bayern Munich chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, admits he had known for a fortnight that Pep Guardiola was going to leave the Bundesliga club next summer.
Guardiola’s departure at the end of his contract in June was confirmed by the Bavarian club on Sunday, although the announcement hardly came as a surprise with speculation rife that the Spaniard would be leaving.
Rummenigge has revealed he knew what was coming weeks ago, telling Germany’s Bild newspaper: “He came over to me two weeks ago at our Christmas party and told me that he was looking for a new challenge. He was almost apologetic. I’m not disappointed in him.”
Although confirmation of Guardiola’s decision to leave did not come until this month, Rummenigge believes he had spotted signs as early as the summer, but did not really want to believe them.
“You could read between the lines and that was something that we should have interpreted,” Rummenigge said. “We did take note of it, but we just wanted to give him time to make up his mind in peace.”
Carlo Ancelotti will take Guardiola’s place on the Bayern bench from next season and Rummenigge is delighted with his club’s capture.
“Carlo Ancelotti has had success everywhere,” he said. “He’s won the Champions League three times and that remains a record to this day, and he’s got quality of course. He fits in here, it’s as simple as that.”
Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, centre, talks to Arjen Robben and his family during the celebrations. Photograph: A. Hassenstein/Getty Images for FC Bayern
Rummenigge also dismissed reports that Guardiola had decided to leave due to disputes with the club’s medical team or the director of sport, Matthias Sammer.
“There has always been this speculation, that Sammer and Pep had problems, but it’s all rubbish,” added Rummenigge.
Sammer lauded Guardiola and claimed he had been treated unfairly by the media, because of his success.
“In Germany we always have the feeling that when somebody’s getting so much praise, then there has got to be another extreme and they’ve got to be brought down somehow,” Sammer told Sky Sport Deutschland. “What he has achieved, also for German football, is extraordinary and we’ve got to recognise that.
“We have got to bring an end to seeing negatively somebody who works so painstakingly, as if tomorrow never comes. In recent days, Pep’s come off far too badly. What he does with his hard work, his dedication and his positive craziness can be discussed, but it cannot ever be questioned.”
Sammer says Bayern will not fall apart now that Guardiola is leaving, however, saying that they had always been planning for this eventuality.
“It’s a pity [that Guardiola is leaving], but this is football,” Sammer added. “It’s always a loss, but on the other hand we have to serve our responsibility for this club and get back to normal.
“What the players have achieved in these past four years is absolutely honourable, and now we’ve got to find the right time to get back to talking about what matters. Ancelotti is the man we really wanted; nobody else came into the frame.”