Radamel Falcao’s move from Monaco to Manchester United is the perfect transfer on all levels for the Red Devils.
The reported £6 million loan deal, which Guillem Balague insists will be a permanent £51.4 million transfer, has stunned their rivals.
It’s also shown how United, and in particular Ed Woodward, are finally thinking ahead, and why Louis van Gaal has more than a shade of Sir Alex Ferguson about him.
Falcao agents insist he’s been bought €65m for 4 years. Loan deal first for FFP reasons?
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) September 1, 2014
Falcao was the one elite striker who was available for transfer this summer.
With United already having four strikers in Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez, and with young James Wilson also set to be promoted to the first-team, it seemed that the striker position was one area the Red Devils wouldn’t look to strengthen.
The club has already spent over £150 million this window, and while Chicharito has gone to Real Madrid, even if Welbeck also left, signing a new striker still appeared a long shot. And it’s that suprise factor which might well have ruined the plans of United’s rivals.
There seemed to be a lot of truth in Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal pursuing Falcao recently. While Liverpool plumped for Mario Balotelli in the end (though they would have almost certainly preferred Radamel Falcao), it appeared City especially were planning for his arrival.
It was thought that Falcao would arrive after wantaway striker Alvaro Negredo left for Valencia (h/t Daily Mail). However, United’s swoop for the Colombian now means City could well have to keep the disgruntled Negredo. While the Gunners now appear set to continue without a new striker if Arsene Wenger’s comments (h/t SkySports.com) are to be believed – particularly damaging for his team after missing out on Loic Remy.
So in one fell swoop, Manchester United have boosted the optimism flying around their squad and their fans, while creating an air of disappointment at both Manchester City and Arsenal.
On top of that, Falcao’s transfer shows how United – and Ed Woodward – have learned the lessons of their midfield crisis, and are now investing to avoid a similar situation up-front.
While Falcao is the same age as Rooney and just three years younger than van Persie, with the latter’s injury concerns the Falcao move provides that security for the Red Devils in attack.
In a season where Manchester United need to get back into the Champions League if their hard work building a money-spinning empire is not to be all for nothing, Louis van Gaal needs to have two world-class forwards in his line-up.
With van Persie needing to go under the knife and thus be ruled out for a number of months, United would be short of the required quality should Welbeck or Hernandez be deputising in that time.
So to replace van Persie in the short-term with a truly world-class forward in Falcao is the ideal situation for United which is now a reality.Plus van Persie’s injury record and the reported concerns over his fitness means a top striker is more of a necessity than most would think.
Van Gaal thinks Van Persie will continue struggling with injuries and Falcao is more than an ideal replacement — Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) September 1, 2014
And in the long-term, yes Falcao is only three years younger than van Persie, but that’s potentially three more years with a world-class striker in the team.
Signing Falcao almost certainly means Welbeck will follow Chicharito out of Old Trafford, and will provide a further boost for United in terms of the progress of James Wilson.
Wilson was better than both Welbeck and Chicharito put together in his cameo appearance at MK Dons, and the 18-year-old has already shown great promise with his two-goal debut against Hull City.
His promotion to fourth choice this season will enhance his development – and give United a better option than Welbeck or Hernandez – but the real boost to his progress will be at Carrington.
Training and learning off Radamel Falcao, in addition to Rooney and van Persie, could improve Wilson’s game immeasurably – again keeping United strong up-front for the long-term.
And finally for Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, his agreeing to the Falcao signing provides a good insight into how his team will play this season.
That is, we now know that United – in terms of how the team is set-up – will be one of the most unpredictable sides in the Premier League this season.
While van Persie is out of action, van Gaal could well stick to the 3-5-2 formation. But when the Dutchman returns, the manager has a plethora of options.
He could go 4-3-3 with a fearsome Falcao-Rooney-RvP trio up front, or he could play Angel di Maria on one side with Rooney playing deeper.
Or van Gaal could stick to 3-5-2 with Falcao and van Persie, with Rooney just behind and di Maria as a wing-back. Or have Juan Mata in the no.10 with Rooney in central midfield.
The possibilities are endless.
Falcao’s signing begs the question of where the likes of di Maria, Rooney and Mata will play, and simply makes United a much harder team to second-guess for managers and oppositon scouts across the Premier League.
It also makes competition for places even tougher in the forward positions – that will make Rooney, van Persie, Mata, even di Maria and Falcao himself work harder in training and become more focused.
Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson always had many different options in midfield and attack.
They could be impossible to second-guess, and with so many quality players to choose from, teams would face the Red Devils without much of a clue as to how they would line up and how they would play.
It’s part of the reason why United were so dominant under Sir Alex – opponents just didn’t know who would play, but they knew whoever did play was going to be a quality option that could tear their team apart.
After sanctioning this deal, Louis van Gaal appears to be following a similar route to Sir Alex.
The signing of Radamel Falcao looks set to bring the fear factor back to Manchester United.
Manchester United’s embarrassing 4-0 defeat at the hands of lowly MK Dons in just the second round of the League Cup is conclusive proof of the complete lack of depth available to United manager Louis van Gaal.
Here we look at five players who van Gaal most definitely was not expecting to let him down against an average third-tier side.
The most useful thing Javier Hernandez can do for Manchester United is accept a move to Juventus as part of the Arturo Vidal deal, if reports are to be believed.
The 26-year-old striker has scored big goals in the Premier League against the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, and as a Mexico international scored against Argentina and France in the 2010 World Cup, before his move to Manchester United.
And yet against a League One team in MK Dons – who aren’t exactly the best in England’s third-tier – Chicharito was shockingly ineffective.
In his first season at United, the Mexican made his name as a goal-poacher with brilliant movement to get behind defences and score the tap-ins that look easy but take an intelligent footballer to get in the right places at the right time.
But on Tuesday night, none of those quick, imaginative runs were on display, just as they haven’t been since the moment Sir Alex Ferguson walked out the door.
His understanding with Danny Welbeck has also disintegrated, perhaps because they are part of different cliques at Carrington and in the Old Trafford dressing room.
And when his golden chance came knocking on 78 minutes – which in itself proves how useless Hernandez was throughout the match – he decided to try and poke the ball in with the outside of his right foot, despite having all of the requisite space to trap the ball and produce a calm finish past David Martin, the MK Dons goalkeeper.
It’s that poor decision-making, combined with his lack of effort and movement, which could well have cost Javier Hernandez his Manchester United career.
Danny Welbeck showed some fight in the game, and would no doubt have got on the scoresheet had there not been a load of inexperienced kids providing the service from midfield.
Hernandez however was the complete antithesis, and even the young James Wilson looked a million times better than the Mexican.
After letting down Louis van Gaal yet again, surely his chances are up. It’s got to be curtains for Chicharito.
To have an article published in the Daily Mail describing the fall from grace of a Manchester United player after a match against a League One team just shows how shockingly poor Anderson was against MK Dons.
From a United perspective when in possession, the game was crying out for a leader in midfield, a man who would demand the ball and take it forward, skipping past players and bellowing at teammates to make runs and create options.
And off the ball, the Red Devils desperately lacked that midfielder who would bust a gut to get back and help the defence.
Never before has a Manchester United player looked so out of place wearing the shirt has Anderson did on Tuesday night at the MK Stadium.
Not only did he fail to inspire going forward, but defensively he played a big part in all four goals United conceded.
For Will Grigg’s first, while Jonny Evans made the mistake, Anderson was the nearest man to Grigg and when Evans committed the error, the Brazilian should’ve reacted and ran back to pressure the MK Dons striker.
Instead he just jogged back to goal a little and saw the ball go into the back of the net – the sign of a man who simply didn’t give a shit.
Although it must be said for the second goal Anderson did initially react to the danger, and tracked back to cover the run of Grigg.
Trouble is, despite two looks over his shoulder to see where Grigg was, Anderson lost his man completely and gifted the striker an easy tap-in.
That’s the main symptom right there of a player who has virtually lost of all his ability as a top level footballer.
The sooner he leaves Manchester United the better.
For an established member of the Manchester United first-team, a man who has been an integral part of the defence for many seasons and has won nine trophies in over 180 appearances for the club, Jonny Evans was atrocious against MK Dons.
His thoughtless mistake – which was meant to be a pass to Anderson – costed his team greatly, with the error not just leading to a goal but also massively knocking the confidence of all the youngsters around him, who had been looking more dominant up until that point.
That attempted pass shows exactly how complacent United’s attitude was in the game. In the Premier League, no centre-back would attempt something that risky.
In the second half Evans was lucky not to concede a penalty, and for the second goal he should have stopped the cross coming into the penalty area in the first place. Again he was complacent.
Overall a night to forget for Evans, and one that has almost certainly seen him lose out to Marcos Rojo for a place in the back three.
As a youngster, Louis van Gaal will probably expect Michael Keane to make mistakes.
But not like the one he made for MK Dons’ second goal. It was his lazy attempted pass to Andreas Pereira which was intercepted and allowed the Dons to score.
As van Gaal will no doubt point out to Keane in excruciating detail – with Ryan Giggs and Albert Stuivenberg probably piling on – misplacing that pass in such a sloppy fashion, in the position he was in, is one of the biggest cardinal sins of his philosophy and the 3-5-2 formation.
Out on the flank as the right-sided centre-back to allow the wingback to push forward, Keane was in one of the two places on the pitch (the other being in central defence) where he should definitely not give the ball away.
And yet he did, and found out to his detriment why giving the ball way in that position can be oh-so-deleterious.
If he needs it explained again – conceding possession in that position gives the opposition the most ideal position on the pitch to launch a counter-attack, and on top of that makes it much easier for them to score as they’re facing an exposed defence which is missing a man.
Of course Anderson could’ve saved his blushes if he actually knew how to man-mark, but such is the Brazilian’s fall from grace that as a defensive midfielder he can’t even read the run of a goal-shy, out-of-favour League One forward.
If Keane was competing with Tyler Blackett for a first-team place, then after that mistake to end all mistakes as far as Louis van Gaal is concerned, he has most certainly lost out now.
A loan move to a Championship club (it’s highly doubtful any Premier League team would trust him in the heart of their defence) now surely beckons.
Despite the fact Manchester United clearly needed more energy, pace and directness – all things Zaha offers – against MK Dons, the fact that van Gaal felt the winger/striker wouldn’t be able to make a difference shows that his time is up.
Even before a ball was kicked, Wilfried Zaha failed his Louis van Gaal audition.