Last summer heralded a new dawn for Manchester United. The promise of a better future was bought along with players like Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao. However with more than half the season underway, if there is one player that has disappointed in his outing with the Red Devils, it is Radamel Falcao.
The Colombian international grabbed headlines worldwide during his exploits at Atletico Madrid. He joined the Spanish outfit after a highly successful spell at Porto that saw him net 72 goals in 87 fixtures. In his two seasons at Atletico Madrid, Falcao will probably be best remembered for single handedly tearing Chelsea apart in the 2012 UEFA Super Cup finals. A first half hattrick by the Colombian demolished Chelsea and announced the arrival of Radamel Falcao on the big stage.
Two years down the line, Manchester United fans were brimming with similar anticipation as the club secured a last minute loan deal for Radamel Falcao. The idea of the prolific striker linking up with the likes of Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie held immense promise for a club that was desperate to reclaim their crown in the English Premier League.
However just 8 months into his new club, it seems that Radamel Falcao is set for a premature exit from a club that is clearly disappointed with the return they are receiving from a potentially big investment. At the age of 29, Falcao suffered a severe knee injury in 2014 that saw him ruled out for the entire season and the World Cup. And though the striker recovered in time to seal a move to Manchester United, questions regarding a plaguing knee continued to do the rounds in Manchester. Alleged pictures of Falcao nursing a knee led to such speculation that the striker was himself forced to clear the air publicly. However a dodgy knee and muscle injury did keep the striker regulated to the sidelines. Falcao missed a string of crucial fixtures as he was missing from the line-up against the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea.
So just how bad has Falcao been this season?
To put things in perspective, the Colombian international has made 12 starts this year and has come off the bench on 5 occasions. He was unused in two fixtures and failed to make it to the starting eleven in 5 fixtures. The striker has played little over 1000 minutes and has found the net on 4 occasions while providing 5 assists.
To be fair, this is not a clear reflection of a strikera s contribution to a club. Struggling with injuries at a club that is struggling to find its feet, Falcao could be forgiven for lacking in goals this season. It is not apt to blame a striker when the entire team is playing lacklustre football. It is no secret that Manchester United are not playing attractive attacking football and are struggling to find the right formation and formula for success under Van Gaal. Even Robin Van Persie, Van Gaal and Manchester Uniteda s darling son has not been having a successful season. The Dutch international has played close to 2000 minutes, twice that of Falcao, and has scored only 10 goals in as many minutes. With both his strikers misfiring, it will perhaps be unfair to single out Radamel Falcao as the bad apple in the pack and blame him for Manchester Uniteda s dismal performance.
Van Gaal was spot on in pointing out that the club lacks a 20-goal season striker but perhaps the fault lies with the team. Manchester United are clearly not playing the type of football that can support and aid a 20-goal season striker.
But when you invest in a player of Radamel Falcaoa s potential, the fans and the club can be forgiven for expecting a player that can single handedly win the club matches. A player, just like the yesteryear Radamel Falcao, who can put in three goals in the first half to win the game against a tyrannical opposition. That is the player Manchester United were looking for when they invested in Falcao. And that is the player Radamel Falcao will need to be become if he wants to stay at Manchester United.
While his lack of goals cannot be singularly blamed on the Colombian himself, Falcao has been peculiarly missing from the games that he has featured in. He has been found lacking in his first touch along with his ability to find the back of the net from relatively easier positions. He has failed to establish a healthy partnership with Van Persie and Rooney and his inability to go past defenders has definitely not helped his case. In fact, the Colombian was given a fair amount of opportunity to prove his case by Louis Van Gaal. But having clearly failed, it is no surprise that he was dropped from the squad by Louis Van Gaal against Newcastle, which will do little to help his situation at Manchester United.
However the season is not over for Radamel Falcao. Manchester United have 11 games to secure a spot in the Champions League next season and are preparing for a gruelling schedule ahead of them. Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal are all yet to play the Red Devils as Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers and Louis Van Gaal go head to head in the race for a Champions League spot. Perhaps this is Radamel Falcaoa s opportunity to win over Old Trafford. A strong set of performances in these big fixtures will prove his case for a long-term contract but will the Colombian be up to the challenge?