It was far too fitting to see Radamel Falcao frowning at the bench when Louis van Gaal made the decision to haul him off gone the hour mark during Manchester United’s FA Cup clash with Preston North End tonight.
Though it’s open to interpretation whether or not the forward was actively indicating his unhappiness over the manager’s decision, or simply that he couldn’t see the fourth official's board, what matters is that tonight was yet another outing for the Colombia international where he didn’t just fail to impress, he failed to turn up.
Falcao vs Preston
Prior to last summer’s move to United - on loan from AS Monaco as part of Van Gaal’s new project - Falcao probably hadn’t even heard of lowly League One outfit Preston.
They’d certainly heard of him though, and it’s a safe bet that when the draw was made that saw the Deepdale side pitted against the former Premier League champions, the defenders were consumed with anxiety over facing a man with one of the most formidable reputations in Europe. They needn’t have been.
As has been the case so often this term Falcao flattered to deceive up top for Van Gaal, and any frustrations he may have had were echoed by his teammates as they trudged off at half-time having failed to remotely look like opening the scoring.
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To his credit the 29-year-old tried different things. A roll of the shoulder almost put him in after a neat Angel Di Maria through ball, only for the Preston ‘keeper Thorsten Stuckmann to gather without too much trouble, but on the whole Falcao was limited to coming short for the ball and attempting to set up teammates rather than find a route to goal.
With the prodigal James Wilson on the bench Van Gaal would have been forgiven for making a change soon after the break, and though it wasn’t the Englishman who entered the fray, Falcao was indeed soon subbed.
Insult to injury
What won’t make his situation any better is that his replacement Ashley Young set up the equaliser with a tidy pass to Ander Herrera, whilst Marouane Fellaini, who became the de-facto centre-forward after the aforementioned change, prodded home United's second.
For a player with the stats that Falcao has backing him up, to struggle so helplessly against a League One outfit will be the peak of disappointment. Time is quickly running out for him to prove that he can have a positive impact for Van Gaal, and if the goods aren't produced soon he may well find himself in limbo come the summer, with Monaco having scaled down on their own project thanks to billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev’s expensive divorce.
The mood in the dressing room post-match will be one of relief-fuelled content for United given that they’ve successfully arranged a date with Arsenal in the quarter-final. Falcao though certainly won’t have anything to be happy about.
United fans, do you think Falcao is good enough to play for the club? How did you rate his performance tonight? Let us know in the comments box below...