Radamel Falcao making strides at Manchester United

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There is something hugely satisfying about seeing Radamel Falcao find the net. The goal is usually followed by an expression of ecstasy, a sprint towards either the fans or his teammates with his arms out and mouth open in a roar of glory. It makes particularly good viewing for Manchester United, who are finally reaping the rewards of his stunning deadline day purchase in September. 

A club of United's sheer enormity and business structure do not pay for loan deals. No club does. But when Falcao became available for the poultry fee of £6million, Louis Van Gaal obliged. Why pass up the chance to sign a player who was the best forward in the world two years ago? Why let the chance to let a proven goalscorer into their mist slip? The deal made sense. 

United ambition

The difference between Van Gaal and his luckless predecessor David Moyes is details like this. Whereas Moyes was often dubbed as "dithering Dave" due to his reputation to hesitate on transfers, his successor bit the bullet and went for it. Not many managers would pay for a loan deal, particularly for a player whose year had been marred by a serious knee injury that consequently rid him of the chance to appear in the World Cup back in the summer. 

It came down to ambition. The Dutchman has ambitious plans to restore United to the top. The arrivals of Angel Di Maria, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera and Daley Blind highlight that. It was an expensive summer, but productive. 

For too long United had tolerated the deadwood, dating back to the days of Sir Alex Ferguson. Danny Welbeck was a local lad, one for the future. Javier Hernandez was a capable striker but one whose career had been on a downward slide since his stunning debut season in 2010/2011. Both were allowed to depart in order to accomodate Falcao. They have not been missed. 

Tiger transformation

Things have not exactly been plain-sailing for the Columbian striker. Injuries have marginalised his impact, whilst the resurgence of Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney have plunged his future into further uncertainty. James Wilson is another getting plenty of minutes under his belt. A route to the first team has had its obstacles along the way. 

But now, El Tigre is beginning to hit form. His goal against Stoke City rescued United a point, and was only his third for his new club. But it was his second in four games and, a timid performance away at Tottenham Hotspur aside, it is clear his sharpness is returning by the game. 

On Boxing Day against Newcastle United he failed to find the net but was one of the standout performers. A deft touch helped Rooney open the scoring, and also demonstrated his unselfishness. It is about the team, after all. 

Prior to that had come a bullet header against Aston Villa, one that gave big Brad Guzan no chance and saw their unbeaten run continue. His goal against Stoke City had similar consequences, seeing them leave Staffordshire with a hard-earned point even if the hosts' were deserving of more. 

New Year optimism

One goal in one game for this year, read a tributary tweet on the club's Twitter page shortly after the New Year draw against Mark Hughes' men. It was a message to the doubters. This is his year.

At least United will certainly hope so. Whether or not they win the title, or even qualify for the Champions League, can rest on the shoulders of the 28-year-old. He reportedly has until April to prove he is worthy of a permanent deal. If the goals continue to come, that decision could be made sooner rather than later. 

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