I knew Pep Guardiola was a brainy so-and-so the moment he spurned Roman Abramovich’s lecherous advances, but I must confess that he’s even brighter than I first thought.
Why? It’s because this summer he will inherit the world’s best football team, Bayern Munich.
Yes, you heard me right.
While the rest of us continued to ogle the beauty of Barcelona - assuming the wondrous team he’d left behind were still light years ahead of the rest - the smart-arse Spaniard craftily realised that something special was brewing in Bavaria.
And now soon, they will be his.
Granted, having made two Champions League final appearances in three seasons it wasn’t exactly top secret that Jupp Heynckes men were a decent side. However, their imperious form so far in 2013, culminating in a savage destruction of Arsenal on Tuesday night, clearly marks them out as the next very special football team.
And that’s the key word here – team.
To be frank, most of Europe’s elite would have beaten a Gunners side containing too many flaws to compete at the very highest level, so this is in no way an excuse-making-exercise for my former club.
It’s simply that the manner of Bayern’s murderous display was to me as a former player, a journalist, and a fan, something special to behold.
Rarely have I witnessed a side that’s put in such a sensational shift without the ball.
Every time an Arsenal player received it, a swarm of black shirts buzzed around them, blocking spaces, marking men, narrowing angles, applying pressure.
Despite their faults, Arsenal’s strength still revolves around movement and options for the man on the ball, but the sheer work-rate, hunger and discipline of the Germans ensured that the player on the ball had little or nothing to go at.
On the rare occasions Arsene Wenger’s side did manage to buy themselves a yard or two of space, the door was instantly slammed shut in their face by a supremely well-drilled defensive unit.
The sight of Theo Walcott surging towards goal in a one-on-one situation, which quickly turned into a one-on-seven, was just one example that left me virtually speechless in the commentary box.
It was no surprise to learn that Bayern Munich had collectively ran more than 7km further than the home side at the Emirates.
The pre-match statistic that informed us they’d conceded ONE goal all season away from home in the Bundesliga, didn’t appear to be an anomaly after all. Suddenly, it added up.
Bayern Munich’s set-up and organisation wasn’t just efficient, it was exemplary.
On the ball, a more cohesive side you couldn’t wish to find, except perhaps in Catalonia.
With the sensible, sharp and defensively astute pairing of Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger conducting the orchestra, a fluid front four of Franck Ribery, Toni Kroos, Thomas Mueller and Mario Mandzukic could interchange with freedom, ably supported by two marauding full-backs in the shape of David Alaba and Philipp Lahm.
The Gunners didn’t know whether they were coming or going. They teased them mercilessly, and if Bayern had pushed harder they could have comfortably scored more than three goals.
The only team to surpass their domination of Arsenal on home turf were Barcelona’s class of 2010. Yet even they allowed the north Londoners to escape with a draw. A similar scenario never looked likely in this match.
That’s because Jupp Heynckes (and soon Pep Guardiola) has a squad packed with world class talent that revel in the enjoyment of working together. On and off the ball they prefer to combine as a group, rather than playing solo.
A team of stars, but with no superstar mentality, makes for a formidable force.
It’s easy to disparage the brilliance of Barcelona on the back of a strangely subdued performance - and defeat - against AC Milan at the San Siro you might think.
Hand on heart though, I promise I’d still be saying the same thing had they turned up at the Giuseppe Meazza and spanked Max Allegri’s workmanlike side with their usual, clinical precision.
With one defeat all season in La Liga, and a goal difference of +53 from just 24 games the greatest club side of all time haven’t exactly hit a brick wall. They’re still sensational.
But, is their midfield as mesmerizingly good as they were in 2011? No.
Does the team press with the same intensity and cohesion as they did at their peak? No
Is there a subtle edge and direction missing from their play without Guardiola, and now the stricken Tito Villanova at the helm? Yes.
Are they more reliant on Lionel Messi to win them matches than they’ve even been before? Yes.
Critically, are Bayern Munich a better team than Barcelona in 2012-13? Yes I think they are.
We raised our eyebrows at news that Pep Guardiola’s decision to snub the Premier League in favour of an unexpected project at the Allianz Arena, but football’s most in-demand coach knew exactly what he was doing.
If Bayern Munich are not champions of Europe on the day he takes his first training session, I’ll be mightily surprised.
Bet now on Bayern Munich to win the Champions League at odds of 4.00
Read more insights from the former professional footballer Adrian Clarke