MANCHESTER, England (AP) — As David Moyes lurches from one setback to another in his troubled first season at Old Trafford, Manchester United's hierarchy may well be casting envious glances at Bayern Munich to discover just how smooth managerial transition can be.
Two of the most celebrated clubs in European football were forced to begin new eras last summer after Alex Ferguson and Jupp Heynckes opted to end their coaching careers and head into retirement.
While Bayern went with one of the safest pair of hands around in Pep Guardiola, who turned Barcelona into the best team in the world in a trophy-laden four-year spell, United took a gamble and hired Moyes despite his limited experience of top-level football.
Eight months on, perhaps unsurprisingly it is Bayern which has managed change the better.
The two teams are heading in opposite directions as they meet for the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday, with Bayern having just retained the German title in record-breaking style and tipped by many to retain its Champions League trophy. Moyes, meanwhile, is hanging onto his job after a first season at the soon-to-be-deposed English champion that has been nothing short of disastrous.
"They are probably the side most people have looked to recently," Moyes said Monday, when asked for his opinion on the Bayern side of Guardiola. "He has had a year to get ready for the Bayern job and has done incredibly well with them."
To be more precise, Guardiola agreed in January last year to replace Heynckes the following summer. He was living in New York at the time, spending a year away from football after a stressful spell at the Camp Nou when he was approached by Bayern.
In many respects, the inheritance was made easier for Guardiola. The majority of Bayern's players were in their prime — Arjen Robben was 29, Franck Ribery was 30 and Bastian Schweinsteiger was 29, for example — and he took over a squad full of talented, technical players who would have little trouble slipping into the tiki-taka approach Guardiola favors.
But the Spaniard was also decisive in his sole incursion into the transfer market in signing Thiago Alcantra — reportedly from under the nose of United, no less — and his insistence on high standards means Bayern's level hasn't dropped. In fact, the evidence suggests things are getting even better