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The soap opera of Manchester United

22 January 2015 by

Manchester united manager Louis Van Gaal has developed a head scratcher regarding two of the world most recognisable strikers. Which would make many automatically think that Van Gaal would be overjoyed by having this dilemma. This is strangely not the case. Following the summer ‘loan’ signing of Radamel Falcao Manchester United must have been licking there lips; a strike force of Rooney, Van Persie, Mata, and Di Maria. Throw in Falcao and United’s forward line could rival any in world football. Van Gaal’s decision to bring the Colombian international was highly conversational to say the least.

After the loss of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand a formidable partnership which was very much the back bone of United’s recent successes both domestically and in Europe. Surely the former Barcelona manager had to reinforce his shaky looking defence. Maybe the Dutchman has seen potential in the British contingency of Jones, Smalling, and Evans. However, already half way through another thrilling Premier league season United’s defence has come under criticism. Without inspirational performances by David De Dea who knows where the red devils would be, probably not 4th. Defenders Luke Shaw, and Marcos Rojo were both signed in the summer in attempt to strengthen the back 4 or 5 (depending on what formation). Yet, injuries and loss of form have hampered both players to a limited number of games. Major question marks surrounding Rojo have already been set in stone, as the Argentinian international just does not look good enough for a Manchester United side striving for a top 4 finish. Van Gaal recently reviled that Rojo’s ideal position would be as a left sided centre half in a 5 man defence, but any Premier league defender should not be caught ball watching as much as Rojo has been found too.  Along with reading the game too slow and looking extremely sluggish when faced with a pacey attacker, Rojo at the moment seems out of his depth.

Surely, the United manager regrets not signing a ready-made world class defender instead of taking a gamble with Falcao when he didn’t really need him.  Yes, the club is trying to make a statement with his signing and yes, Falcao’s name will sell plenty replica shirts, but surely the transfer of Angel Di Maria does both off them.

Once the signing of Falcao was confirmed and he was officially made United’s new no.9, from the outset it could have been a clever move by Manchester United. Doubts had set in over Robin Van Persie at the age of 31, many thought the Dutchman could be past his best. With Falcao the ideal replacement. With a fantastic scoring record for Monaco, Athletico Madrid, and Porto the Colombian has proved himself at every club. Yet, following a series of serious knee injuries Falcao missed a huge chunk of last season, along with last summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Rumours circled that Falcao was trying so hard to get fit the World Cup that he rushed his dodgy knee, causing more potential problems. Even drastically changing his running style, just slightly, to try relief pressure onto his knee. Which ultimately has limited his game time at Old Trafford this season.

On the other hand, when the £300,000 a week man has been fit and playing he has looked far from the world class striker that United fans though they were getting. Even young James Wilson has looked far more threatening than Falcao. Properly more worrying for Van Gaal is that Falcao looks like he might have lost a yard of pace. Most certainly doesn’t look like the Falcao that destroyed Chelsea in the Super Cup final not that long ago. At still only 28, a loss of pace could only be down to this chronic knee problem which has left pundits and fans alike wondering if the glistening goal scorer Falcao once was, has unfortunately come and gone. However, RVP who over the last few seasons, has embraced his loss of pace with sublime touches and exceptional build up play. Van Persie has shown that a modern day mature forward can cope without that extra yard, only if they are good enough on the ball and off the ball. Can Van Gaal afford to have two similar forwards in a league blessed with fast and strong centre backs? This is maybe why Angel Di Maria has been appearing upfront in United’s recent game’s to give the forward line some pace in behind the opposition.

With Falcao looking a yard slower, United’s manager will surely keep picking RVP instead for his overall play he gives the team. Also captaining Van Gaal’s Dutch national team will of course benefit RVP’s chances to continue to be the top striker at United. Clearly the former Arsenal striker is ahead of the pecking order for the time being.

For the sake of Manchester United and Radamel Falcao’s footballing career, he needs to start rediscovering his past form. Only then will the Colombian be remembered as a truly world class forward.

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