pep Guardiola has given so many press conferences in his life that no computer program can count them. He's done it in a wide variety of languages, he's praised players he thinks are outstanding and those he doesn't think much of. He was also often pathetic, and all in all one never knew exactly which of these press conference peps was the real pep and which was the pep that one should only take for the real thing.
In this sense, the spectacular event from last week was given far too little credit. Guardiola, the Manchester City coach, was sitting on a press podium at Sevilla FC, his team had just won 4-0, and he was saying sentences he may never have said before. Guardiola said: "I love this new routine in every single press conference where I talk about Erling and his goals. But it's not just the two goals from today, it's always like he's there and you feel that he could always score more goals."
Pep Guardiola seemed happy, but maybe a little irritated. He probably felt like a famous researcher who has been admired for decades for finding his way to his goal on winding routes or, if he doesn't find the goal, failing sublimely. And who now has to realize that he could have had all that nonsense easier. That there actually is this abbreviation that everyone is always talking about.
Today one suspects that the false nine was an exclusive system for Lionel Messi's FC Barcelona
Historically that may be short-sighted, but Guardiola is credited with inventing the false nine - that hybrid player who is half striker, half anything else, sometimes falling back into midfield in preconceived ways to throw opposing defenders into a dilemma. Follow him, clear your place in defense and open spaces. If you don't follow him, he is unguarded and can do the most wonderful things from wherever he is.
In this way Guardiola is with that Barcelona FC been more successful a decade ago than football actually intended. But was it a good idea for football as a whole that everyone always looked to the industry leader? Today one suspects that Guardiola's false nine was an exceptional situation - the role was played by the incomparable Messi, and behind him he knew Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernández, who are blessed with such a flair for the game that the ball sometimes scares itself. All the imitators who tried to do that without Messi, Iniesta and Xavi had to realize again and again that this style sometimes put their own team in a dilemma. Because you would like to play one up there and, for example, you can't find one right now.
The wrong or correct nine is the big topic of this second Champions League match day, which has scheduled two alumni meetings for this purpose. Guardiola's Manchester City welcomes Borussia from Dortmund with striker Erling Haaland, who of course feels Haaland's loss - especially after the serious illness of his successor Sébastian Haller, who is now being replaced by Anthony Modeste. And FC Bayern meets without Robert Lewandowski FC Barcelona with Robert Lewandowski.
It is the overarching story of this season that the Gerd Müller club from Munich, of all people, is currently trying to do without a classic centre-forward. In the first few games, Bayern were rightly celebrated for this approach, and you could see a certain liberation in the players. Sadio Mané, Thomas Müller, Jamal Musiala, Kinglsey Coman, Leroy Sané and Serge Gnabry combined through the defenses at breakneck pace, and it was noticeable how solidly the artists pushed the ball over to the better side. No real nine seemed to need a goal for their ego here, but there were still six or seven goals on the scoreboard.
But now, after three league draws in a row and in a very tense atmosphere, the question arises in Munich whether it really always has to be the goal of the month with a double one-two and a triple loop. Lewandowski sometimes reaches the goal of the day.
Bayern are apparently already thinking about Harry Kane - a very real nine
Thomas Müller, who else, summarized the topic in the press conference before the Barcelona game: "We usually have four offensive players up front who can play in all positions. If we don't deliver a good result, that's a target for criticism .But in the games where we had a lot of offensive situations, we benefited from the fact that the defenders didn't know exactly who the target player was. We will be confronted with this yin and yang again and again in the coming months."
But of course they have long suspected in Munich that what Gerd Müller's game once taught will always apply: Every team, no matter how well they play, needs the easy goal on difficult days. Otherwise there is a risk of a Sisyphus football that eventually tires the artists and puts the players under pressure. It can be terribly annoying for a team if, despite 1000 combinations, the goal doesn't fall in front, it makes nerves thin and leads to a lack of concentration at the back - which then, for example, result in a penalty goal for VfB Stuttgart in the 92nd minute.
Lewandowski's transfer almost reads like a final message: It's over. At least the great Xavi, as FC Barcelona coach, personally ordered the end of the false nine, flanked by ex-boss Guardiola, who was suddenly amazed at the value of Haaland's real nine. Of course, thanks to the high quality of their strikers, Bayern can still be successful this season, but it is also certain that they will not permanently ditch their Gerd Müller. The many wrong nines do not mark a change in philosophy in Munich, they are more the product of a complex market in which apparently no nines suitable for FC Bayern could be found in the summer.
The rumor persists that Bayern would be applying for Englishman Harry Kane for the coming season, a very real nine. But it would be so expensive that the many wrong Bayern nines this season would have to score a few crucial Champions League goals to finance it.