The former Real Madrid manager has replaced Pep Guardiola and Phillip Lahm believes the Italian can thrive at the Allianz Arena as they embark on a pre-season tour
He’s an Italian who has coached in Milan, London, Paris and Madrid, winning national and international titles. He knows how to speak to the players and it’s obvious that he’s excited to be here - and that makes us feel great.
I hope that our American friends will pick up on that good feeling while we’re on this tour; it was certainly promising to see so many Bayern shirts at the airport when we arrived. I can’t wait for the game in Chicago and then it’s on to Charlotte and New York!
Being a professional footballer means that I always have football on the brain. When I’m watching the news, for example, no matter where in the world the story is, I’ll still recognise kids wearing Barcelona, Manchester United, Real Madrid or Bayern shirts.
It’s important to think about those kids when we go on tours like this trip to the US. All those young Ronaldos, Riberys and Neymars, be they in India, Africa or America, show how important football is all over the world.
For a big club like Bayern, with fans across the globe, it means that we have an obligation to them. When we do tours like this, many people decry the burden of a 10-day trip with long flights and three matches in three different cities - and, of course, it’s exhausting. But I’m convinced that nobody who has seen the excitement in Asia or Africa during the International Champions Cup would question the immense meaning of the tournament.
Fans are the most important thing in football and, nowadays, they really are everywhere. They watch all of our games on TV or online. I can’t pretend that every fan who wants to see us play can do so even when we go to their country but it means a lot just to see that we’re real, that we’re really there. These games are played in places that they recognise and it makes them feel closer to us.
They’re not the only ones who benefit from it. We get the chance to learn new things and get to know new cultures and ways of living.
It’s also a valuable opportunity for us to reflect on what we want from ourselves and think differently about what we do. Before we left for the States, we played a small game in Landshut. Only three days later, we’ll be facing AC Milan in Chicago. That’s the balancing act that we have to do as we develop our identity as a team.