When Bayern Munich announced that Louis van Gaal would be the clubs new coach last summer, I was sceptical if the Dutchman is the right man for the job.
I never doubted the class and coaching qualities of van Gaal, but I had my doubts if he would be able to adopt to Bayern Munich as the Bavarian giants live in their own ecosystem.
And he luckily proved me wrong though initially things headed towards failure, but Bayern Munich kept trust in their coach and it has paid off.
Bayern now have won the Bundesliga title and could still win the German Cup and the UEFA Champions League, a rare treble which no German club has ever achieved.
The only way, the van Gaal way
Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal, as is the full name of Louis van Gaal, is a coach with an own philosophy. And for him there is only one way to success, his way.
The Dutchman is feared by the media and fans alike. He is described as unfriendly, arrogant and van Gaal himself knows he isn't the most loved man on the planet.
But this seems to be a compliment these days for successful football coaches.
At the first press conference in Munich van Gaal said, "The Bavarian lifestyle fits me like a warm coat. "Mia San Mia" (we are who we are) – and I am who I am. Self-confident, arrogant, dominant, honest, industrious, innovative. But also warm and familiar."
This raised high expectations after Bayern had not won the German Bundesliga title in the last couple of seasons. And the Bavarians see the Bundesliga title is like a birth right for them.
But the start was mixed for Bayern and van Gaal. The coach with his own ways didn't seem to fully reach his players, while the management was getting nervous as in late autumn it looked it Bayern could face another season without a trophy.
German international Philipp Lahm even gave an interview with a German newspaper warning the club and his team mates not to lose their focus. Lahm was heavily fined by the club, but now in retrospect one can say, it was an important part of the puzzle.
Hard work pays off
Then came the final Champions League group match in Turino against Juventus and Bayern came home with a 4-1 win and moved on. Since then the team looked like a transformed set-up, the coach had changed a little, became more communicative with his players and realised their needs, while the players started to understand the philosophy of their coach.
Whatever van Gaal was doing, he was doing it for the success of the team and the club. And once understood it was a transformed side.
The team started to challenge for the top position in the Bundesliga, went through to the final of the German Cup and had memorable nights in the Champions League, beating against AC Fiorentina, Manchester United and Olympique Lyonnais on the way to the final.
Names count nothing for van Gaal, only performance does.
And it showed once more in Munich. Italian striker Luca Toni, a crowd favourite, was too often injured and was causing problems in the team when not chosen. Van Gaal sent Toni away to AS Roma.
The coach was betting on youngster Thomas Mueller, who became his utility man upfront. Mueller played as a striker, a withdrawn striker, as a play maker even on the wings and he went on to score 20 goals in all competitions.
The 20 year old youngster delivered in his first full season for Bayern and has even gone on to represent the senior German national team.
Besides Mueller other Bayern youngsters who made the transition from the second team to the first team were defenders Holger Badstuber, Diego Armando Contento and David Alaba.
And once more it showed van Gaal's talent to spot and promote youngsters with potential.
At Ajax Amsterdam he started the successful careers of Edwin van der Sar, Clarence Seedorf and Patrick Kluivert.
And at FC Barcelona the trio of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol had their first professional experience under van Gaal.
A changed Man
And Louis van Gaal seems to be a transformed man. The year in Germany has changed him for good.
And this was most evident in the last couple of days.
Yesterday before the match in Berlin, he was shaking hands with kids and gesturing to them.
At half time he changed clothes. Out of the suit and into a tracksuit knowing a beer shower was coming after the game. He evaded a number of his players, but in the end van Gaal was drenched in beer. Earlier he had said his players shouldn't dare to throw beer on him.
He partied long with his players and today on the balcony over the Marienplatz in Munich he was seen dancing with the Bundesliga title, saying to the fans, "We are now champions of Germany, but we could be champions of Europe."
What a year it has already been for van Gaal in his first year as Bayern Munich coach, but it could be a record breaking season for Bayern.