The world's media assembled in Munich on Tuesday lunchtime to discover the truth behind the much-speculated future of Bayern Munich's outgoing coach Jupp Heynckes. The treble-winning coach was flanked on stage at the Allianz Arena by his close friend Uli Hoeness and board chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Recently, media speculated that he might be tempted with a return to Real Madrid. Heynckes, a fluent Spanish speaker, lifted the Champions League with Real in 1998 before being unceremoniously dumped. With Real looking for a new coach after Jose Mourinho's departure, rumours lingered that a second spell in the Spanish capital beckoned for 'Don Jupp' as the former Real, Athletic Bilbao and Tenerife coach was affectionately known in Spain.
Those looking for an unexpected twist to the story were left disappointed. Rather like the recent weather in Munich, the press conference proved something of a damp squib. Throughout this elongated, but deserved, Heynckes 'love-in', one never had the feeling that Jupp had another surprise in store.
Quite rightly and very wisely, he has elected to go out at the very top in club football. Ultimately, the 68-year-old manager has decided to take an indefinite break from the game. He has chosen to listen to his wife Iris and will attempt to recharge his batteries. Heynckes spoke at length about the wear and tear that modern football induces, explaining that he aims to 'regenerate' in his family home near the Dutch border.
"The coaching job at FC Bayern costs a huge amount in terms of resolve, power and energy," Heynckes said. "Over the last few weeks in particular, I've sensed that I've been at the limit. It was incredibly demanding, incredibly all-encompassing."
You might have already heard elsewhere in dispatches that Heynckes is to be replaced by a certain Pep Guardiola in the summer. Pep was no doubt watching from his New York penthouse with mixed feelings. After the massive media fanfare and collective back-slapping surrounding Bayern's appointment of Guardiola, it's clear that expectations will be heightened when the 42-year-old begins a three-year contract at the end of the month.
Remember that at the time of Guardiola's appointment, Bayern were potless (in terms of silverware) in over two seasons so there was definitely a case for new impetus. Heynckes (conveniently) now revealed that he would have called it a day at the end of the season anyway. Guardiola's appointment in January gave everyone a lift at the club, especially Heynckes. He seemed to be revitalised after the announcement of the 'New Messiah', providing an extra spark and motivation.
Rummenigge waxed lyrically about Heynckes' "masterplan" to recover from those three bitter second-placed finishes of last campaign. Lesser men (and teams) would have crumbled after that disappointment.
It is amazing what a difference a year makes - what a transformation and recovery in just 12 months. I have visions of last May and a depressed, lonely, elderly figure traipsing across the pitch after sudden-death penalty defeat against Chelsea, no doubt wishing for the Munich pitch to swallow him up. The triple was a fitting tribute to the masterplan and a remarkable change in personal fortunes.
However, he hasn't officially retired. He is just taking time out. Personally, this leads me to speculate that he would consider Germany's managerial post, should it become available after the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil of course. Obviously, he cannot openly say he is after Joachim Löw's job, but this would be a natural progression for Heynckes once those batteries are recharged.