Louis van Gaal has revealed he demoted Radamel Falcao to Manchester United's Under 21 team to help him rebuild his confidence.
Falcao was named on the bench for the FA Cup quarter-final tie against Arsenal on Monday. With Manchester United trailing 2-1 on 70 minutes and with just one substitute left, Van Gaal opted to bring on Adnan Januzaj, much to the shock of the Colombian.
Instead, Falcao was selected as one of Manchester United's senior players in the Under 21 game against Tottenham, played at Old Trafford 24 hours later. Sources close to the player told various newspapers that the decision had left Falcao in total shock and resigned him to leaving at the end of the season.
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It seemed like the ultimate embarrassment for a player who earns a reported £250,000-a-week, but Van Gaal insists he made the decision to try and help Falcao rebuild his confidence.
"It just shows a professional attitude of the manager, the staff and the player"
Van Gaal told reporters: "People wrote that it was humiliation to play him in the second team. But a lot of players have played there this season.
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"So I don't think so. It just shows a professional attitude of the manager, the staff and the player.
"Victor Valdes also played and Rafael da Silva. Rafael played a very good match and scored a very good goal so he will now have a better grip on his confidence."
"That can happen to all the players playing in the second team. It's a lower level and they can play more than the 70 minutes they get in training."
Van Gaal is a man of his word, especially if yesterday's reports are to be believed. After seeing Rafael impress for the reserve team, he is ready to give him a recall to the starting XI against Tottenham this weekend.
"Falcao did not play his best match for the second team but he tried and he did his utmost best"
Had Falcao impressed then he may have earned a recall as well, but Van Gaal has admitted he was not impressed with the 29-year-old's performance. However, the Dutchman refused to question the player's workrate.
"Falcao did not play his best match for the second team but he tried and he did his utmost best. I can not ask for more from him. He has shown a professional attitude
"We pay a lot of money for the players and so it is normal that they play football for us. Falcao has not reacted to this the way the media has reacted. That's the difference."
Days are numbered
While Van Gaal has dug himself out of a hole with regards to this controversial decision and has turned heavy criticism of Falcao into praise it is increasingly clear that Van Gaal does not see the AS Monaco striker as good enough for his first team.
Refusing to send him on against Arsenal at 2-1 down was the final nail in the coffin of a Manchester United career that was ever barely alive.
Do you buy Louis van Gaal's claim that he played Radamel Falcao in the Under 21s to rebuild confidence or was it punishment for a lack of effort? Give us your thoughts in the comment box below!