Manchester United Review
When Manchester United announced that Radamel Falcao was ready to swap the picturesque Monte Carlo for the rain drenched North East England, it knocked the football world out of its senses. While United fans celebrated wildly on social media, others looked on wide-eyed, without knowing how to make sense out of it all. Not that anyone is trying to find sense in swapping sunshine and beaches for eternal rain country, but in a pure footballing sense, it doesn’t make sense – for Manchester United. Or so it appears!
A cursory look at United’s current squad would suggest the most pressing need is a commanding centre back and a world class central midfielder. But if you take a closer look at the on-field ailments of United, you will see that their attack is as culpable as their meek defence and gaping midfield. In the three Premier League games so far, United have scored just two goals and more worryingly in each of the three games United had fewer shots on targets than their opponents.
A team which boasts a top line strike force in Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie should be doing much better than that. One can argue that it could be due to the poor quality of the midfield, but great strikers should also be able to create chances for themselves rather than expecting chances to be presented to them on a platter.
That brings us to the question, are these two players great anymore? When we read out the names of Rooney and Van Persie on a team sheet, it still creates an impact for sure. But truth be told, the impact remains only in our mind and on paper. Clearly they aren’t playing at the same level they used to play a few years ago and that means they have slowly regressed in the past years and are on a downward slide in their career. A club like United would ideally want their players to be on the up and not the other way.
When Paul Scholes recently expressed his doubts over whether Rooney may have passed his best, he was absolutely spot on. But Sir Alex Ferguson knew that much before Scholes did. When Ferguson falls out with a player, it mostly suggests that he doesn’t think the player is central in his thoughts anymore.
Ferguson in his last season shunted Rooney to the wings and also kept him on the bench on few occasions, most notably against Real Madrid at home in Champions League and it was rumored that Rooney was on his way out. But in the end, Ferguson left and Rooney stayed. Last season, Rooney somehow saved himself with some sumptuous goals and assists, but that was almost like a half-nosed man becoming a king in a land of skunks.
Robin van Persie:
Robin van Persie does not anymore look like a player who would get Manchester United 20 plus league goals a season. He was average in the World Cup, except, of course for that wonder goal. Throughout his career he has been plagued by frequent injuries and as age advances it becomes difficult to regain full fitness. Over the past 12 months he never looked 100% fit. When Falcao’s name emerged as a potential target in the last days of the transfer window, there were reports that Van Persie could be set to go under the knife to reset his troublesome knee. Though he refuted the claims later and insisted he’s making good progress, his physical condition remains unconvincing and strongly suggests his best days are already behind him.
As I told before, a club like Manchester United cannot afford to have both their main strikers at their twilight years and without enough quality options as replacements. So when a player in the quality of Falcao becomes available, you need to pounce on the chance because great opportunities may not knock on your door twice.
Falcao is a world class talent. There’s no doubt about it. His impressive goal tally in all his previous clubs is enough proof. Falcao is about spectacular goals. There’s a YouTube video of his great collection of bicycle kick goals doing the rounds in social media now. He can produce powerful and accurate shots off both legs as he’s genuinely two-footed and he can also head like a god.
Falcao has all the attributes to shine in Manchester United colours. Having played in a physically tough-tackling French league, he should be suitable to the aggressive English Premier League as well. Also, despite being a big star he has kept himself away from controversies and has shown exemplary dedication and attitude which in particular should have pleased United.
Falcao in Starting 11 and Mata Out?
Falcao’s higher standing in the game means he would automatically warrant a starting berth. So where does that leave United’s already established trio of Rooney, van Persie and Mata? Despite the shortcoming of both Rooney and RVP, I expect them to keep their places, but Mata is the likely fall guy.
The story of Mata is a sad one. If I’m to make a movie on Mata, I would name it as ‘No Club for a Slow One’. At Chelsea, he had strong runners all around him to create space. But at United, he’s being forced to drop deep, run and fetch the ball himself which clearly isn’t his natural game. I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear about him on a transfer deadline day very soon.
Currently, with both first choice strikers seemingly few levels down their own previous high standards, United desperately needed quality replacements. Enter Falcao – in a private jet amidst a lot of frenzy. But his signing is not without certain risks. The same reasons that make us skeptical about Rooney and Van Persie holds good for Falcao too. At 28, Falcao is not too younger than Rooney and he is as injury prone as Van Persie. Yet, the deal being a loan deal any potential loss is minimalized, and if he can stay injury free it will prove to be a very shrewd signing.
P.S: This article is also published in Sportskeeda Website: http://www.sportskeeda.com/football/radamel-falcao-necessity-luxury-manchester-united