Without wanting to sound too much like Jose Mourinho, if you only watched between minutes 65 and 68 of Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday you must have thought Radamel Falcao had just produced his best performance since arriving at Old Trafford on a season-long loan deal.
Falcao showed a couple of excellent touches - the type of which we weren’t sure he was still capable of producing - to draw the foul which led to United’s penalty, and was then handed a standing ovation from the Red Devils’ supporters minutes later.
So incensed were the Old Trafford faithful to see Louis van Gaal replace the Colombia international with Marouane Fellaini that a chorus of boos echoed around United’s famous 76,000-seater stadium.
Van Gaal was right to sub Falcao
These were the loudest boos heard at Old Trafford since the David Moyes era, but Van Gaal was well within his rights to make the substitution after Falcao’s dismal performance in the first 64 minutes.
This was not a display which warranted a standing ovation - far from it - even if the Manchester United supporters are desperate for the 29-year-old to silence his critics.
Another anonymous display
It was simply another anonymous performance from a formerly world-class striker struggling for form, fitness and confidence.
Barring the penalty incident, Falcao had one shot off target to show for his afternoon’s work and completed 15 passes.
Yet again, not good enough from one of the world’s so-called best strikers - and certainly not enough to convince the Red Devils to pay AS Monaco’s absurd £46 million asking price at the end of the season.
Yes, the service to Falcao from his Manchester United teammates was practically non-existent - Sunderland spent much of the first half with plenty of men behind the ball in a bid to frustrate their opponents - but the South American striker has to do more to reverse his ailing fortunes.
Falcao, a goal machine who lit up European football for years with FC Porto and Atletico Madrid before joining Monaco in the summer of 2013, has effectively been a passenger for most of the season - and United can ill-afford to sign the washed-up striker on a permanent basis this summer.
Wayne Rooney must start in attack on his own
In the short term, starting on Wednesday against Newcastle United, Van Gaal should start Wayne Rooney in attack on his own at St James’ Park.
It came as no surprise to most Manchester United fans that Rooney, playing upfront in place of the injured Robin van Persie, scored the two goals which earned all three points for the Red Devils at the weekend.
The United and England captain is clearly a 20-goal-a-season striker - despite Van Gaal’s latest bizarre claim - and will probably reach that tally before the end of the current campaign if deployed in his natural position between now and May.
Falcao currently has four goals to his name this season. It’ll take a brave man to bet on him reaching five.
Manchester United fans: do you have any hope that Falcao will come good over the next few weeks? If so, why? Tell us in the comments below!
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