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Man Utd: Director’s Cut – Ep 2: Meet Roy Keane

The enigma of Roy Keane

Roy Keane is by many seen as a simple man, usually not meant in the kindest of ways. No, when you describe Roy Keane as simple you mean blunt, angry, rash and perhaps a bit unintelligent. By others he is seen as the opposite, a more complex dark nature. By most he is remembered as a fierce and uncompromising (sometimes way over the line) midfield warrior for Manchester United. How can that be? Does he have more layers than what you first perceive? Is he even an unsolvable enigma? Well, let’s not get carried away here. This post is my effort to introduce you to MY Roy Keane. Here you’ll get to know the Roy Keane that is going to manage Manchester United in their return to the top of English football (and the world!)

I will break this down into 3 sections:

  1. Managerial style and attributes
  2. Manchester United DNA
  3. The Triple triangle philosophy – general tactical approach and the re-birth of the 4-4-2

Managerial style and attributes

So, above you see the managerial attributes of the in-game Roy Keane, former assistant manager of Nottingham Forest, currently unemployed. A bit unimpressive, and this really doesn’t make the cut for two reasons; first of all I’m making the challenge of turning Manchester United around a lot harder by removing all the funds and half the squad. I want to mitigate this a bit by making Keane a bit better. Secondly, half decent attributes doesn’t do the picture I’m painting justice. For this not to end a short story but a legend, I need to enhance in-game Roy Keane. After all, in his own eyes, he is a god among men.

Therefore the “new and improved Roy Keane” or “Roy Keane 2.0” looks like this. I used the attribute points given to me/him by keeping his Continental Pro License and setting his experience level to “former international”. Then I basically simply made him a bit better in general. The big difference is the improvement in Working with Youngsters, something he’ll certainly need in his quest to develop a new generation to carry Man Utd into the future. Otherwise his strengths lie in the mental aspects of coaching, with 20s in Determination, Level of Discipline and Motivating.

To create the legend of a god among men it won’t be enough with a tool box full of sharp managerial tools to use on the pitch. My Roy Keane will also strive to become a legend off the pitch. The legend of a man that never compromises. Never ever. This means that in any and all interactions in this save, be it talks with concerned players or press conferences, I (Roy Keane) will ALWAYS choose the option or answer the farthest from a compromise and the closest to the opinion or will of Roy Keane and the club.

I honestly don’t know where this will lead us. The threat of a player revolt led by disgruntled players, followed by a swift sacking is of course real, but I hope that the players, the board and YOU, the members, understand that all this is done in the interest of Roy Kea…I mean Manchester United!

Now that you’ve got a bit of an insight into what kind of man my Roy Keane is, we’ll move on and look at what constitutes a proper “Man Utd Man” in his eyes.

Manchester United DNA

“A powerful, dominant, and highly competitive midfielder, in his prime, Keane was known for his work-rate, mobility, energy, and hard-tackling style of play, which earned him a reputation as one of the best players in the world in his position, but also a degree of infamy, due to his tendency to pick up cards and commit rash challenges”
-Wikipedia article on Roy Keane

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself”. An ideal easier to preach than to live by. If your name is not Roy Keane, that is. If you are used to breaking boundaries and pushing limits, it’s easier to demand passion and hard work from others. Luckily this gives Roy Keane quite the elbow-room when approaching his players.

“An influential presence on the pitch, he also stood out for his leadership and strong character throughout his career, as well as his temper”

The attributes that defined Roy Keane are also the attributes he searches for in his players. Therefore he demands a lot from them. He demands total commitment, wanting the players to breathe Manchester United, bleed Manchester United, BE Manchester United. They should be willing to sacrifice everything for the club, a pursuit that should only be matched by their desire to win. For Roy Keane, it’s all about winning. Winning at all costs. Therefore, stepping over boundaries, bodies or broken shins is justified. As long as you win.

The Triple triangle philosophy

“Usually operating in either a holding or box-to-box role in the centre, his most prominent traits were his stamina, tenacity, aggression, and ball-winning abilities, although he was a complete midfielder, who possessed a wide range of skills, and was also capable of carrying the ball forward after obtaining possession and either distributing it to other players or creating chances for his teammates, courtesy of his precise passing, and could even score goals himself” 

A game of football isn’t only about breaking shins and winning. It’s also about defending your own goal and putting balls into the other. To those of you fearing that that’s the end of the tactics part, I can assure you there’s at least a little more thought put into this.

In many aspects Roy Keane is a traditionalist. He firmly believes that football is played and games are won by teams, not eleven individuals. He also believes that there is a best way to form a tactical setup, and that is by using four defenders, four midfielders and two attackers. Together with his coaching staff he has created “The Triple triangle philosophy”. It’s the closest one can get to distilling the player Roy Keane into a tactical philosophy. If you don’t have enough imagination to figure out what that’ll look like there is an explanation below.

The basis for the philosophy is simple. When you don’t have the ball you defend. When you have the ball you attack. The link between the two are transitions, which are also key to the philosophy. If you are more skilled in the transitions than the opposition, you gain an advantage. If the advantage is big enough, you actually don’t need to have better players than the opposition to win the game. As simple as it sounds.

The idea in defense is to relentlessly harass the opposition when they have the ball. Press them, kick them, instill enough fear in them to force them to simply give the ball away. The four defenders and the two central midfielders – the best suited players to perform this task – form The Red Triangle, the colour red symbolising a STOP sign for the opposition. Stop right there, don’t get any closer to our goal. And give me that ball! Don’t make me force you. Or, please do and find out what’ll happen!

The colour green symbolises the “go” signal. Let’s get the ball into the net! Let’s do it now! Give it to the players in The Green Triangle – the midfielders and the two attackers – and let them work their magic. Or, not magic really, I take that back. Give them the ball and let them swing their heavy swift sword of attacking football and let it fall, relentlessly crushing the opposition.

To go from RED to GREEN you need to pass YELLOW, the heart of our philosophy. The two players in the yellow triangle play important roles in both defense and attack and especially in the transition between the first and the latter. They need to be versatile, strong and technically gifted at the same time. They must possess the ability to both win the ball and pass it. They must be “modern day Roy Keanes”.

In a 4-4-2 this could create the illusion of a tactic with separate blocks for attacking and defending. That is a simplification to gross to do the system justice. Of course the players in the Red Triangle need to be more defensively than offensively minded and skilled than the the players in the Green Triangle and vice versa. But all players need to master all parts of the game, especially the midfield duo. Therefore the requirements to become a Manchester United player are tough.

Roy Keane and his staff are looking for certain attributes for the players in the different triangles, but as stated above, all players need to be versatile and well-rounded. They have devised a player rating system (it wouldn’t be a proper MikaelinhoFM series without a rating system, right?) based on the most important attributes divided into physical, mental and technical for each of the three triangles, together with the “core skills” bravery, determination and teamwork. In the next episode we’ll take a closer look at that player rating system and the new transfer strategy that’ll help bring players of “Man Utd material” in to take the club back to the top. Until then, “take that, you cunt!”

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