Armchair Scouting: Who is Robbie Keane?

Stupid question, I know. At least it is for anyone who knows some footy. However, this “Who is…” is going to be a theme for the next few weeks on this blog. Yeah, I figured that the one thing that the world needs is one more player profile. Seriously though, there are some unknown names in the Indian Super League that deserve some focus. So, I’m going to use whatever’s left of my journalistic skills (it was 8 years ago, after all, that I was a journalist) to delve into players and their styles of play. Call this armchair scouting if you will. In fact, I think I’ll change the title right now to include that phrase. I quite like it.

Right on, we will begin with Robbie Keane. Why? Well, we will because it will be easier for us to sink our collective teeth into someone well known. We can gnash our jaws over lesser known footballers in subsequent instalments of this Armchair Scouting series.

Who Is Robbie Keane?

As I said earlier, anybody who knows football knows Robbie Keane. Keane should be a fairly well-known quantity for us. He is an Irish international who played for big European clubs such as Inter Milan and Liverpool. However, Keane’s greatest performances have come for the club Tottenham Hotspurs where he played more than 200 games spread across two stints.

Keene has also played for clubs such as Wolverhampton Wanderers, Coventry City, Leeds United, West Ham United, and Aston Villa in England, Celtic in Scotland, and LA Galaxy in the US. Further, he happens to be one of the most decorated Irish internationals with 68 goals and 146 caps.

In terms of value, the most that Robbie Keane was ever worth as a footballer was £21.60m following his most productive year. In that year, Keane started 40 times for Spuds, scored 31 goals, and assisted 13 times. He did that when he was 27 years old, by the way. He’s 37 now!

What are Keane’s Strengths?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, in his prime, Keane was a nippy forward. He revelled in his mobility. In fact, if I was to use a stereotype, I would probably call him a poacher. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He can probably break the offside trap well.

He can also work in a two striker set-up. His one-twos will be interesting to watch as well because countering one-twos requires a lot of defensive experience. I expect these kinds of moves to break down a few defences in the country.

Finally, Keane is a good finisher. His goals tally is the best proof of this ability. He has scored a total of 245 goals in his career. He’s scored them in 569 matches, which means that he has a healthy strike rate of 0.43.

Movement in the final third and subsequent finishing skills are Keane’s greatest strengths. These strengths suit poachers best but are also useful in support strikers and inside forwards. Support strikers play just off the main target man while inside forwards operate from the wings.

Keane performs best as a support striker. The reason is that the main target man keeps the defence occupied. This gives Keane the chance to ghost in and take up key goal scoring positions.

What are Keane’s Weaknesses?

Keane’s physical stature allows him to be the kind of striker that he is. Poachers are generally agile and quick but cannot dominate defenders physically. Elderly poachers remain physically unimposing but still rely on movement borne out of their experience and intelligence. This lack of physical acumen is something that Keane will have at the age of 37 years.

The Indian Super League, on the other hand, is a little physical in nature. You just need to look at the type of players here to verify this. This could be Keane’s Achilles heel, unless of course defenders get overawed by his reputation. In my opinion, defenders willing to get in Keane’s face will do well against him.

Another weakness is that Keane can’t head. His heading skills were minimal at his peak. They will be even less effective now. Also, Keane isn’t known for being involved in the build-up. His assists count has never been exceptional in his career. As per English Premier League stats, he has 37 assists in 349 games. He doesn’t even put in a lot of key passes.

What Can We Expect From Keane In ISL-2017?

While traditionally Keane doesn’t really get involved in the build-up play, I think he will be asked to at ATK. One of the primary reason why an ISL franchise would spend so much to get a 37-year old player is his experience (marketing is the main reason but we’ll let that slide). The best way to tap into that experience is to get the player involved in the spine of the team.

A poacher is not really a part of the spine of the team. A support striker can be, though. I think Keane will be mainly played as a support striker/playmaker so he can get more involved. Remember, Keane has an old connection with ATK coach Teddy Sheringham. They tore up the premier league defences when they played together for Spurs. You can even say that Sheringham has been one of Keane’s mentos… mentoes… mentors (yes!).

ATK will have to play Keane as a support striker. There’s just too much responsibility on the sole striker and the inside forward is expected to defend too. These things Keane won’t be able to do. The physical toll on him as the sole striker or an inside forward will be too much. Even as a support striker, Keane will have to do a lot. How well he does depends on his physical condition as well as how well he communicates with his teammates.

Interesting Facts about Keane

Everything can’t be serious on this blog. I won’t be able to write much and you will ditch it very quickly if it was too. So, I will add this section to all player profiles. This section will contain interesting facts about the player.

  1. Just like Keane had a connection with his coach Sheringham during his playing days, he had the same with Kerala Blasters’ marquee player Dimitar Berbatov. In fact, Keane’s best season came when he played alongside Berbatov in 2007.
  2. Keane is a Liverpool fan but he sucked royally when he played for them. He was there for only six months and played only 19 games, scoring five goals.
  3. Keane has scored in three straight World Cup games, something that only 12 other players have done.
  4. Keane used to celebrate his goals with cartwheels and summersaults before firing imaginary pistols. He’s too old to do it now. His joints have become followers of Gandhi in his old age.
  5. Keane is known for his singing skills. It’s genetic because his cousin is Morrissey who founded The Smiths and has had multiple solo hits as well. Here’s a video.