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Smiling Pep takes over Bayern guard

GUARDIOLA-CITEHMUNICHBUT, Germany, June 24 – New coach Pep Guardiola on Monday vowed to maintain the treble success Bayern Munich enjoyed under predecessor Jupp Heynckes, as the Spaniard was officially unveiled as the Champions League winners’ new coach.

Guardiola’s appointment, announced in January, has created considerable hype in Germany, amid hopes that the man who took Barcelona to 14 titles in four seasons will bring glamour to the Bundesliga.

“At the top clubs, you are always under pressure but I believe in myself and I accept this challenge without a problem,” the 42-year-old said in German, which he has been studying for the last six months.

“I will, of course, make changes, but I want to keep the level that Bayern has already achieved.”

Guardiola has his work cut out to match last season’s achievements when Bayern won the treble of European, cup and league titles, plus the pre-season German Super Cup, under Heynckes.

“I have had no contact with Jupp Heynckes but I hope to speak with him in the next few days,” said Guardiola.

“I have a lot of respect for his achievements and it would be good to have his opinion.

“It’s an honour to be his successor, especially after the way his team played last season.”

Having only flown into Munich with his family on Sunday night after his year-long sabbatical in New York, Guardiola spoke mainly German during the hour-long press conference, but also broke into Spanish, English and Italian.

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“I have lived for the last year in New York and it’s not the optimal place to learn German but it’s a gift, a joy to be here,” he said.

“The decision to come to the club was based on its history and its players.

“It’s a fresh challenge for me, my time in Barcelona was wonderful, but I needed a new challenge.

“Bayern Munich gave me the opportunity, I am prepared to give my best. I’m ready.”

Guardiola, whose first training sessions takes place on Wednesday evening, repeatedly stressed that he needed time to get comfortable with the new language, his new home and his new team.

He has brought four of his backroom staff from his Barcelona days in assistant coach Domenec Torrent, scout and video analyst Carles Planchart and fitness coach Lorenzo Buenaventura, plus advisor Estiarte Manel.

“It’s great that these people were willing to follow me. This is a challenge also for the families, I hope that we manage it well,” said Guardiola.

A former Spanish water polo international, Manel is Guardiola’s confidant.

“He has participated in many Olympic Games. I like to take his influences from other sports, he will help us,” said Guardiola of Manel.

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Guardiola admitted that he was nervous as he faced about 300 reporters but was relaxed enough to crack a few jokes.

“Perhaps my family should move in with me at Saebener Strasse (Bayern’s training ground), because I’ll be living there for the next six months,” he said.

He also joked that while he had watched all of Bayern’s games last season at his New York apartment, he had not been allowed to come to Germany any earlier “because my German teacher is a Borussia Dortmund fan”.

Guardiola, however, called for calm amid high expectations for the Bavarian giants.

“Give me a bit of time, step by step, my German isn’t good enough, but I’ll try to reach a high level,” he said.

“If a side has won four titles, the need for a high number of changes isn’t great.”

Guardiola takes his squad to Trentino, north Italy, for a training camp in the next fortnight and is under considerable pressure to deliver the success Bayern expect.

“It’s one thing to get to the top but it’s another thing to stay there and that is Guardiola’s challenge after our wonderful season,” said Bayern president Uli Hoeness.

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