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Opinion Piece

United must bite the bullet and sign Falcao

CS76394811Manchester-UnitedRadamel Falcao is currently experiencing his most difficult spell as a professional footballer. Notwithstanding Saturday’s goal it may very well be the most out of form spell he has experienced his entire life. Let’s face it the man has been nothing but top class since his arrival on the European football scene with Porto in 2009. However, his form this season has left much to be desired.

His four goals in 14 league appearances so far this campaign are not even been remotely close to his 153 to 197 goal to appearance ratio through the past five years. An in depth look at his stats reveals roughly a 0.0045 goals per minute ratio and a 0.231 goals per appearance ratio this Premier League season so far.

These stats are no doubt far, far away from what the club and its supporters expected once the news of his signing on loan from AS Monaco broke on deadline day in September.

The initial reaction of the United faithful was one of elation. Pure unadulterated joy at the signing of arguably the most deadly, out and out striker in Europe. Boasting a 0.78 goals per league appearance ratio since 2009, the Colombian was expect to inject class, technique, an eye for the spectacular, and most importantly, goals, into a United side which was bereft of all the above last season.

The “Falcao Frenzy” has lasted most of the first half of the season but in recent weeks the mercurial striker has come under scrutiny for his lack of output. There has even been much speculation about the striker’s future away from United at the end of the season.

All that is a load of rubbish.

It has been exactly one year and seven days since Falcao suffered his anterior cruciate ligament injury while playing for Monaco. An injury of this magnitude usually requires at least six or seven months to heal completely according to doctors. Having experienced this injury on two separate occasions I would say it took me, the average man,  about 12-13 months to feel completely back to normal.

However, I was (and am) not a professional athlete hell bent on attempting to make a comeback in time for the largest sporting event in the entire world, the World Cup. Falcao was back training with Colombia just five months after his injury.

While I do not necessarily agree with his decision to try and comeback that soon after his injury you cannot blame the man. Clearly he knew the opportunity to play with this particular group of Los Cafeteros team was one which had a legitimate chance for the cup, as seen by their achievements throughout the tournament, and was desperate to return for his country.

In the long run, however, it was not a great move as just two months later he is back in training for Monaco and is then loaned to United.

Anyone who expected him to immediately return to his regular form of goal after goal is mad. If recovery in under a year from an ACL reconstruction wasn’t enough for him, he decided to play in England, arguably the most difficult and physically demanding league in the world to play in.

The physicality and speed of play in the Premier League, week in and week out, is absolutely unrivaled. Playing at one of the Spanish giants requires a back to the wall approach for however many matches they play in Europe and the four to eight times you may have to play the other two giants domestically.

No other league is anywhere near as physically demanding as the Premier league. Falcao has been asked to adapt to a new whole new environment and one can’t fault his efforts. 

To give up on him after one season would be a massive mistake by Van Gaal and the staff. How often does a striker with his proven skill set and goal ratio come along? Not very often. And with European football in the plans for next year, arguably where he has had the most success, it would be foolish not to allow him the chance to adapt and fully recover for another season at Old Trafford.

It is clear that United’s new no.9 is desperate to score for United. His reactions upon scoring and all out hustle while he has been on the pitch no doubt make that clear.

In recent weeks he has had some bonafide chances which he has more often than not put directly into the goal keeper (this in and of itself being a bright spot in my eyes as the squad has had a difficult time registering shots on target as of late).

With the likes of Wayne Rooney and Angel Di Maria behind him providing service,  Falcao looked much more involved on Saturday against Leicester, as United showed a new-found offensive fluidity, one which had been stifled by Louis Van Gaal’s insistence to adopt a 3-5-2 approach.

Most of all, however, Falcao needs confidence. The sort of confidence that strikers get by playing 90 minutes and scoring. Chiding the man in the media and saying he needs to play better to the press is not how you go about getting results from him. He’s not some Balotelli character or some other young player still figuring it all out. He’s a professional in every sense of the word.

He’s 28 years old and has one of the best  goal records since arriving at Porto. Give the man time and the goals will come. Lord knows if he plays elsewhere next year he will score at least 20 goals, they might as well come in a United shirt.

Jason Travaglini (@trav_elocity)