Heynckes sets bar high for Guardiola at Bayern
BERLIN (AP) -Pep Guardiola is going to have a hard act to follow at Bayern Munich.
After agreeing to take over at Bayern from next season, Guardiola has had to sit back and watch his predecessor lead the club on a record-breaking season that still has records in sight.
Jupp Heynckes' side wrapped up the German title with a six games to spare on Saturday, becoming the fastest champion in the 50-year history of the Bundesliga, two weeks earlier than the previous mark set by Bayern in 1972-73 and 2002-03.
"I never became a champion at such chilly temperatures, neither as a player nor as a coach,'' Heynckes said after Bayern's 1-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt in 6 degrees Celsius.
It was the third time Heynckes led Bayern to the title in his third stint in charge, following back-to-back wins in 1989 and 1990 from his first spell.
The accolades from his rivals poured in quickly.
"Nobody deserves the title more than Jupp Heynckes,'' said Frankfurt coach Armin Veh.
"Jupp, that was an extraordinary season,'' said Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp. "Your team did almost everything right.''
Heynckes won four Bundesliga titles as a player with Borussia Moenchengladbach in the 1970s, but his latest triumph will be remembered for the team's sheer dominance from the beginning of the season.
After defeating Dortmund in the curtain-raising German Supercup, Bayern made the best ever start to a Bundesliga season with eight straight wins.
It followed up by becoming the fastest team to earn the unofficial title of "autumn champion'' with three matches to spare before the winter break.
And it will have its name all over the record books when the season is over.
Bayern has dropped points just four times in 28 games so far, with only one defeat, having scored a colossal 79 goals and conceded 13. Its goal difference is already better than the previous season best of plus-64, while it looks certain to break the record of 21 for fewest goals conceded in a Bundesliga season.
Bayern has kept the opposition scoreless on 18 occasions, putting the season's record of 19 easily within reach, while it already holds the record for 18 wins without conceding.
The side's away form has been better than at home, with just two goals conceded on the road - the record low is 10 - while 12 clean sheets away from home is already a new mark.
Saturday's win at Frankfurt was the 13th away win of the season - also a record.
Bayern has scored in each of its last 31 Bundesliga games and is bearing down on its own best of 36 straight set between 1973 and 1974.
Heynckes' side is on a run of 11 consecutive wins - also a record within a Bundesliga season.
And Bayern, on 75 points, remains on course to smash Dortmund's mark of 81 set last year.
"Of course, this is also thanks to Jupp Heynckes, who did a brilliant job and made a great team,'' Germany coach Joachim Loew said.
Heynckes will be oldest Bundesliga-winning coach at 68 by the end of the season, and the veteran used his experience to make the right calls at the right time, rotating his side expertly, and keeping a lid on inflated egos in a team packed with stars.
Players like Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben have had to play second fiddle to Mario Mandzukic, who has 15 league goals, and local favorite Thomas Mueller, who chipped in with 12.
In a way, Heynckes has been helped by Bayern's lack of success over the previous two years, when Dortmund was earning all the plaudits, and by the bitter disappointment of losing the Champions League final on penalties to Chelsea in its own stadium.
Bayern also finished runner-up to defending champion Dortmund in the Bundesliga, before suffering the ignominy of a 5-2 loss to Dortmund in the German Cup final.
Those disappointments prompted Bayern to fire sporting director Christian Nerlinger, replacing him with Matthias Sammer, and to splash out ?70.3 million ($87.7 million) on reinforcements, including a club record ?40 million ($49.9 million) on Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao.
It was a statement of intent, even if the Spaniard hasn't yet justified his price tag.
Martinez and Mandzukic were joined by Peru's Claudio Pizarro, Brazilian Dante, exciting Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri and reserve goalkeeper Tom Starke.
With the deeper squad, Heynckes could demand unwavering focus from his side, and a resolute determination not to fail again.
Dante, who arrived from Borussia Moenchengladbach to shore up the defense, complained last month that Bayern's training sessions were tougher than the side's Bundesliga games.
Before the season began, many fans wondered if players like Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was distraught at missing the decisive spot kick against Chelsea, could recover from such a blow to again prove instrumental for their side.
It was fitting that Schweinsteiger, who was born nearby and joined Bayern as a youth, scored the goal that sealed the club's 23rd German championship with a classy back-heel worthy of a title.
Now the prospect of a treble draws tantalizingly close for Bayern, which eliminated holder Dortmund from the German Cup, and has one foot in the Champions League semifinals after beating Juventus 2-0 in their quarterfinal first leg.
Heynckes won the German Cup as a player with Moenchengladbach, and the Champions League as a coach in 1998, when he ended Real Madrid's 32-year wait for the title.
A treble would be a perfect send off, even if Heynckes has admitted having second thoughts on retirement after such an outstanding season.
"When I see that (Konrad) Adenauer became chancellor at 71 and now that our pope takes office at 76, then I also have the right, at 68, to think about whether I'll do something else,'' he joked.
What is certain is that Heynckes will do all he can to leave Bayern on a high and that Guardiola will inherit a record-breaking side with little left to improve.
Expectations for the 42-year-old Spaniard, who signed a three-year deal with Bayern in January, were already huge after he turned Barcelona into arguably the world's greatest side before taking a one-year sabbatical.
Guardiola won an unprecedented Champions League, league and cup treble in his first season as Barcelona coach.
He may find he has to do it all over again.
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