Soccer

Pep says Bayern is at 'very high' level

Pep Guardiola is delighted with his time so far at Bayern.
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MUNICH (AP)

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola is surprised at how quickly the players have accepted his ideas, and says those who do not will lose their place in the squad.

Guardiola told the club's magazine the team will get even better when the injured players return but that Bayern will win titles only if "every player in this great squad" accepts his decisions.

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"Honestly, I was a little surprised how quickly the players adapted to my ideas," the Spaniard said in a rare interview published Wednesday, nearly four months into his first season at the helm of Bayern.

"I thought we'd need considerably more time, but the level is already very, very high. Of course, not in every match and not over full time, but I can say I am pleased with what we've shown on the field in this first part of the season."

Bayern leads the Bundesliga and also tops its Champions League group with two wins in two games, including an impressive 3-1 victory at Manchester City.

Guardiola took over a team that won a treble last season - the Champions League, the Bundesliga title and the German Cup - under predecessor Jupp Heynckes.

"Otherwise, we are going to get problems. I am a great friend of my players when they accept what I say. I support those who accept my decisions - those who do not understand this will find themselves sitting in stands often," Guardiola said.

Bayern's list of long-term injuries include Spain midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez, and defender Holger Badstuber, as well as midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who picked up a hamstring problem last week playing for Switzerland.

Guardiola said he has to rotate players because of the many games in the season and that every player is needed.

"Looking at the entire season, it's not good when for example Franck Ribery or Philipp Lahm play 90 minutes every three days. The more players I have the more I can vary things," the Spaniard said.

The former Barcelona coach said he and his family have settled down well in Munich.

"I hope that I can work for a long time in Bayern, to get to know the city and the region better," Guardiola said.

Guardiola's contract runs through mid-2016.

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