By finishing 3rd in the Premier League and reaching the Europa League Roy Keane did enough to survive in his first season as Manchester United manager. However, surviving simply wasn’t enough for Roy Keane. Nowhere near enough.
An overhaul was desperately needed. The squad was filled with players lacking the Manchester United DNA that Roy Keane desperately wanted in his players. A handful had been brought in ahead of last season, like Mandzukic and Ajer, and Matuidi was coming in on a free transfer, but that simply wasn’t enough. With a limited transfer budget Roy Keane knew that the rebuilding process was going to be a long distance race. He needed to rebuild the squad step by step, gradually selling the unwanted players and replacing them with new players of the right quality. Players with real Man Utd DNA. Players to lead Manchester United into a new golden era. To make sure that things were done right, Roy Keane approached this task with the same sort of diligence and eye for detail that he approached every aspect of the game, big or small. The entire squad was assessed based on age, personality, ability, potential, Man Utd DNA Rating and positional rating.
Three keepers, two of them with reasonable expectations regarding playing time going into the new season. The third and worst of them is expecting to be 1st choice keeper. Well, let’s address the first order of business.
World-class first choice keeper in David De Gea. Decent loyal backup in Dean Henderson. Perfect. A delusional Joel Pereira expecting to be made number one. Not that perfect.
Bye bye Joel Pereira. He left in a £8.5M deal for Norwich, the kind of money that felt like more than good enough. That means that Roy Keane has a solid no1 and a solid back-up option going into the season. However, there is not a single keeper behind these two. This is not a problem now, but it may very well turn into one in the future. But for now, Roy Keane is very pleased with the goalkeeper situation.
Wow, two out of the top three with Professional personality! Roy Keane must be stoked, right? Wrong. Both Smalling and Jones were voted to be sold off in the referendum going into the first season. And even though they were solid English defenders who looked more than good enough to play for Man Utd, Roy Keane had to follow the voice of the people. He was merely the manager of the club, he wasn’t god. Yet.
A lot of centre-backs that had been deemed unwanted by the club, a lot of decent prospects and not a lot in between. Smalling, Jones and Rojo needed to be off-loaded, that was the verdict of the people. That basically left Ajer, Maguire (shitty personality) and Lindelöf (underwhelming Man Utd DNA). So, besides getting rid of a bunch of players, at least one centre-back needed to be brought in.
Five players were found, fitting the criteria of future Man Utd players.
Five world-class centre-backs, no wonder they made it onto the shortlist. How was Roy Keane ever going to choose between them? To make the best possible decision Roy Keane turned to his trusted spreadsheets, like he usually does.
When using the positional rating to separate the players there wasn’t a whole lot between them. Stefan de Vrij was the best one with a 77% rating, with Dias, Felipe and Gimenez right behind him. They were all amazing when it came to DNA, straight up Roy Keane‘s alley, but Dias stood out as slightly better than the rest with an insane Man Utd DNA rating of 18 out of 20.
This is the ultimate solution. He’ll become a Man Utd player in a £52M deal. Some of you may think that 52 million is a lot of money. Roy Keane doesn’t, he considers it a bargain because he’s certain that he has found a player with the potential to become the world’s best centre-back of the next decade. Welcome to Man Utd, Rúben Dias!
Here Roy Keane faced an obvious issue with two players with decent positional ratings and slightly under par DNA ratings. Wan–Bissaka and Dalot had both performed ok in the 2019/20 season but in all honesty Roy Keane couldn’t see either of them being good enough for the club in the future. Laird and Hughes both looked like decent prospects but in no way good enough to improve the club this season. At least one, preferrably two, players needed to be brought in.
The search only returned one single player fitting all the Roy Keane requirements, but what a player he was!
Dani Carvajal was everything Roy Keane dreamed of when it came to right backs. Good speed, good crossing, amazing mentals and fantastic Stamina. A machine made for running up and down the right flank! Sadly neither Real Madrid nor Carvajal were interested in a transfer. Dani Carvajal won’t become a Man Utd player for the 2020/21 season.
Following Diogo Dalot‘s insubordination during last season Roy Keane promised to get rid of the Portuguese. Roy Keane is of course a man of his words, so despite being unable to find any replacements Dalot was sold to Brighton for £30M. Roy Keane wasn’t a complete fool though, and since every team needed a right back, he had to keep Wan–Bissaka even though he didn’t like it.
A bit of the same story here as with the right backs, except that Luke Shaw was a slightly better player with a slightly higher Man Utd DNA than the two right back options. A solid no1 option with three talents behind him. The talents though, showed less potential the better they were. None of them made it tingle in Roy Keane’s pants. At least one player needed to be brought in here as well.
Two players were deemed good enough to be approached.
Digne and Jordi Alba both looked like solid left back options. Good enough personalities, good enough mental and physical abilities and fine players overall both offensively and defensively. Early on Jordi Alba made it clear that he was unwilling to leave Spain, but Digne looked more than willing which made the choice easy. When Everton kept rejecting offer after offer Roy Keane grew tired and turned to a completely different option.
Wait, what? I thought you were looking for wing-backs you might ask yourself! Well, Roy Keane certainly was, he was simply looking in the wrong place. Lorenzo Pellegrini, the absolute beauty of a player, comes in to solve all of Roy Keane‘s problems! With excellent left and right feet he can be used both as a left back and a right back. He looks absolutely fabulous going forward, but his personality and defensive ability look more than decent as well. The final price tag lands on a hefty £80M, but after a bit of positional retraining young Lorenzo may very well become an absolutely fantastic wing-back for many years to come!
Deep Lying Playmaker
Following the loss of Paul Pogba, Man Utd really lacked any world-class DLP options, however the squad was filled with talented youngsters.
Titouan Thomas had impressed after his promotion into the first team squad and James Garner and Dylan Levitt had used their loan periods to really adapt to first team football. Marco Kana was looking incredible for the U18s.
Portuguese wonderkid Florentino Luis had also been signed but wasn’t arriving until next season. In midfield the Man Utd future surely looked bright. However, the team lacked a father figure.
Four players were available and interested enough to be pursued.
Fantastic players all three of the above. None of them looked like a proper father figure though. A £120M offer for De Jong was promptly turned down and he was out of the picture. Bayern didn’t even want to discuss a Tolisso deal which meant that he was out as well. Tousart agreed to a £10M move, but Roy Keane realised that he didn’t need a decent 23 year old. He needed a father figure and/or a world-class player to be the undisputed no1, so he cancelled the deal in the very last minute.
Before laying eyes on Sergej Milinkovic–Savic Roy Keane had firmly believed that love between two men were both a sin and an impossibility. That all changed when Sergej stepped into the room. Roy Keane knew that he had to have Sergej. Hell, he could even stretch as far as calling him “Daddy” if he insisted. Sadly, Lazio seemed to love their player just as much. An £80M deal was turned down. The same with the £100M deal. When a £120M deal was accepted Roy Keane started dreaming of Champions League glory and waking up with a Serbian 25-year-old in the mornings. When Sergej shot him down by stating that he wasn’t even interested in discussing a contract Roy Keane came as close to crying as he had in his life. But he did what he always did. He clenched his fist and turned away. And added another name to his list.
Just as he thought that he was going to have to play the youngest DLP setup in Man Utd modern history an opportunity appeared out of the blue. Chelsea transfer listed Mateo Kovacic and Roy Keane was on him like a cobra on a desert rat. Perhaps he wasn’t as exceptional as Milinkovic–Savic, but he still offered everything Roy Keane wanted. Pure quality, experience and a great personality. In a £62M deal Mateo Kovacic becomes a Man Utd player.
Box To Box Midfielder
With Matuidi added to the already fairly strong BTB duo of Gagliardini and McTominay, Roy Keane didn’t feel like he needed any additions in this position. Gagliardini could also double as a DLP replacement if needed. The squad also held two interesting talents in Krastev (actual PA 4, not 1) and Cernak.
No additions needed.
Inverted Winger Left
This looked good on paper, but it really wasn’t. Sánchez, Lingard and Pereira needed to leave, that was the decision of the members’ vote. That left Roy Keane with Anthony Martial with a great positional rating of 75 but an abysmal DNA rating of 4. Behind him Hannibal Mejbri looked exciting, but he needed at least another year before competing for a first team spot. A player was needed. Preferably one as good as Martial but with good DNA coupled with his quality.
There was really only one really interesting player.
22 year old Houssem Aouar looked like the real deal. With a Resolute personality and lethal attacking weapons he looked like a more solid choice than Martial. He lacked a bit of defensive strength, but at age 23 Roy Keane hoped that he had a bit of development left in him.
Olympique Lyon put on quite the battle, but finally agreed to let their exceptional winger go for £60M. His fee was largely covered by the sales of Pereira (£18.75M to West Ham), Lingard (£20.5M to Everton) and Sánchez (£11.25M to Stuttgart. With the departure of Sánchez enough room in the wage budget became available to offer Aouar a 5 year contract. He will be the 1st choice IWL and will hopefully improve a little more over the years to come to become a solid player for many years to come.
This deal meant that there wasn’t really any money left. Luckily for Roy Keane things looked at least decent up front.
Tahith Chong looked really good and impressed a lot during the first half of last season. Daniel James looked decent enough to remain at the club. A big worry was both players’ lack of DNA though. Roy Keane had more or less given up on Daniel James to ever become a proper Man Utd player, but he still hoped that Chong would keep developing. If that wasn’t going to be the case the winger position would need strengthening in the future, but for now this setup would have to do.
Deep Lying Forward
Mario Mandzukic who came in as an experienced leader ahead of last season still looked good enough for one more year. His physicals were declining but not at a rapid rate and as a DLF he could get away with it for another year. Angel Gomes looked really exciting behind him and was gonna get a lot of chances in the coming season.
Two diamonds in the making. The AF position was certainly the one in least need of improvement. Both Rashford and Greenwood were steadily developing towards the top level and behind them young Adam Hlozek was making remarkable improvements. NO additions needed her either, short or long term.
However, when Roy falls in love, he falls hard. One player deserves an honourable mention as he pretty much epitomized what Roy Keane looks for in a player.
Such an exceptional player who seemed to have been put on this earth to play for Roy Keane and his “Triple Triangle philosophy”. Harry Kane could have been the perfect heir to Mario Mandzukic as DLF, but Spurs rejected the staggering £140M offer and the board wouldn’t let Roy Keane go any higher. This was probably a good thing though, since a Harry Kane signing would have made at least two of the other signings impossible from a financial perspective.
The squad looks improved, which is certainly good considering the £258M spent in this transfer window. The rebuilding process has taken yet another step, both quality wise and in the type of players signed. More and more players with real Man Utd DNA are filling up the squad and hopefully this will lead to success on the pitch as well.
The squad looks well-rounded with a nice combination of talent and experience. All of the new signings strengthen the squad both from a quality and a DNA perspective. The only position lacking a bit is the wing-backs. With Lindelöf able to play out on the right and Pellegrini able to play on both sides this will hopefully provide enough coverage though.
In the next episode we’ll look at how this rebuild performs in the 2020/21 season. Will Roy Keane get to lift any trophies or will the changes he made to the squad prove too big? The only way to find out is to read the next episode. Until then,
take that you cunt!