Pep Guardiola no longer relied on Mario Mandžukić at FC Bayern in the final stages of the 2013/14 season – which he took very seriously.
FC Bayern Munich fans have fond memories of the three years with Pep Guardiola as coach. After the treble in 2013 under Jupp Heynckes, those responsible for Bayern managed a coup by hiring the successful coach from FC Barcelona. Guardiola quickly established his style of play in Munich and won the league three times and the DFB Cup twice with the team.
But not everything was gold in the Guardiola era. In his first season, FC Bayern lost to Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League. After a 1-0 defeat in the first leg, they went down 4-0 in the second leg – a first disappointment for Guardiola.
One reason for the crashing out was probably disagreements within the team. Guardiola biographer Martí Perarnau later reported that the team council had approached the coach ahead of the second leg to express their desire to return to last year’s tactics. That’s why Guardiola made changes.
Guardiola leaves Mandžukić out in the final spurt of the season
In particular, the discrepancies in the end of the season can be pinned down to one person: Mario Mandžukić. The Croatian, who joined from VfL Wolfsburg in 2012, played a strong 2013/14 season and was on the verge of becoming the Bundesliga’s top scorer. He had 18 goals after the 31st match day – then Guardiola did not use him in the next two games. On the last matchday he was only in action for 64 minutes. As a result, the then Dortmund player Robert Lewandowski overtook him and grabbed the top scorer with 20 goals.
Speaking of BVB: FC Bayern met them on May 17, 2014 in the DFB Cup final. Surprisingly, Mandžukić was not in the squad, which was the last straw for the then 28-year-old. But why was he no longer considered by Guardiola at the end of the season? Between Guardiola and him it is said to have really cracked. Bayern eventually sold him to Atlético Madrid in the summer of 2014.
Even three months after the move, Mandžukić had not calmed down and dealt against Guardiola. “It was Guardiola’s decision not to call me into the squad for the final of the DFB-Pokal. Also, if you look at the facts, he didn’t want me to be top scorer, so he didn’t let me play at the end of the Bundesliga season,” said he the Croatian newspaper Sportske Novosti.
Mandžukic on Guardiola: ‘He disappointed me’
But that’s not all. Once in motion, Mandžukić harshly criticized Pep: “He disappointed me. Guardiola wasn’t fair to me. I gave my best for the team and for Bayern. I didn’t deserve to be treated like that.”
The Croatian also claimed that Guardiola had behaved ‘disrespectfully’ and that he wanted to get rid of him. “I would have given him credit if he had come to me and said, ‘Listen Mario, you don’t fit my vision of the game, I need another striker,'” he continued. But that didn’t happen – and that’s probably why Mandžukić and Guardiola haven’t become friends to this day.