Manchester United vs Tottenham: Louis van Gaal at a loss to explain Radamel Falcao form

Radamel Falcao played for the Under-21s this week - and failed to impress Louis van Gaal

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Louis van Gaal, the Manchester United manager, has confessed he is baffled by Radamel Falcao’s increasingly spectacular failure to make a mark in the English game  following a midweek appearance for the club’s Under-21 side which left even his manager underwhelmed.

The chances of United making the Colombian forward’s £6m loan season at Old Trafford a permanent £43.2m transfer from Monaco are fading by the week. With just four goals this season, Falcao endured a sobering 71-minute run-out on Tuesday in an Under-21 game against Tottenham and while Van Gaal insisted there was no slight in his demotion to United’s second string, he does concede that he cannot explain the striker’s current malaise.

“Falcao didn’t play his best match in the second team but he tried to do his utmost best; I can’t ask more of players,” said Van Gaal. “I let my players play in the second squad. I have read that it’s a ‘humiliation’ but I don’t think so.


“It’s a professional attitude, a professional attitude of the manager, of his management of the club but especially also from the player.

“He has not reacted like the media have reacted. I explained already five months ago that every player who doesn’t play has to play sometimes, not regularly, but sometimes when we think it’s needed to play more minutes in the second team.”

Falcao cost United a £6m loan fee when he joined last summer and commands a reported £265,000-a-week salary, figures that contrast with his productivity – or lack of it – for the club. However, even Van Gaal was at a loss to explain his struggle for form.

“We are looking for the solution for him,” he said, “but you never can know that – a lot of aspects you can’t control as a manager, nor as a player.

“You can easily write ‘he can’t play football, he didn’t do that’. But I can’t say that and don’t want to say it because Falcao, and all the other players, are working very hard and I’m very pleased with their attitude.”

United, fresh from FA Cup defeat by Arsenal, face Tottenham at Old Trafford tomorrow, the start of a five-game period in which they must also play Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. “It’s very decisive, the coming matches,” said Van Gaal. “And of course, after a defeat at home, it’s also [interesting] to see the  reaction of the team.”