Radamel Falcao scored his 29th and 30th goals of this season, helping Atletico Madrid to an emphatic 5-0 win against Granada on the weekend. El Tigre looks certain to leave the Vicente Calderon in the future, but links to Manchester United have come from so far out of left field that it seems far easier to just quash those rumours and look ahead to tomorrow.
Alex Ferguson has a way about him, a tone with which you can almost guarantee that what he’s saying is true. The United manager strongly denied there was any truth to the stories linking the club with David de Gea, while he delivered a memorable line about Real Madrid before selling them Cristiano Ronaldo. And let’s be honest, how many football managers do you expect to feed the media with exactly what they’re looking for? Ferguson has rubbished the Falcao stories, and that’s all I’d expect from him.
But a story is a story, and it weighs in with the reports earlier in the year that United were in the race for Robert Lewandowski. Whichever way you want to cut it, you can’t really run away from the idea that United do seem to be looking for another forward ahead of next season. And even more so, you can’t completely rule out Wayne Rooney moving on this summer.
[cat_link cat=”manchester-united” type=”list”]
In fact, it might be a good thing. Rooney is nowhere near the footballer that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are. He’s supposed to be the leading light of the England national team, and perhaps also for this United team. But he’s fallen short of what you’d have expected of him, and whatever praise can be directed to the current United No 10, it’s hard to associate him with the very best in European football.
It’s about consistency and winning. I think it’s quite clear that Ferguson has taken on an approach whereby no one is safe at United – and that’s the way it should be done. It’s a massive swing from where we were in 2010, with Rooney all but expected to move away and United unable to disguise the look of genuine fear and worry in their eyes. At that point, Rooney still had a lot going for him. It seemed to be that he was holding all the cards while United were in a period of rebuilding following the departures of Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. Now, United are off the back of signing one of the Premier League’s best forwards and could be set to move their operations abroad for the finest the continent has to offer.
Arguably, Robin van Persie has taken over the title of talisman in this United team. Rooney, for all his reputation in English football cannot be relied upon to consistently produce numbers that are associated with players of that stature. And it maybe says as much about how Europe looks at Rooney as well. With the player’s future far from certain, there isn’t a real battle for his signature among the continent’s elite. No Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus or Bayern Munich. PSG are said to be interested, but you’d expect that of a club who are still building their reputation in the game.
For United, it’s become a need for more firepower and an improvement on just the one player who seems certain to get you over 20 league goals.
The performance of Falcao and Atletico on the weekend displayed how he can be of use in this United team. With both of the Colombian’s goals coming from crosses into the centre of the box, he’d be the ideal fit for a team who rely so heavily on wingers. Alex Ferguson may be more than comfortable with the idea of not adding a prominent name to his midfield, but the signing of van Persie last summer showed that he is concerned about capitalising on the way his current team play the game.
United may have been fortunate to see some form come from Rooney during van Persie’s dry spell, but there are greater assurances that come in the form of players like Falcao.
This has turned into another war for United, where so many have been won in the past. The loss of the title last season to Manchester City meant that a ruthless approach had to be taken. For whatever may be said about the needs and wealth of City and Chelsea, United are right up there in terms of ability and need to capture the best Europe has to offer. It’s become a new threat, not just domestically but also in the Champions League.
Ferguson has often gone for the very best available, with business in recent transfer windows moving slightly away from that, yet there were plenty of reports linking United with players like Lucas Moura and Eden Hazard. At this stage, can it be really that hard to argue in favour of Ferguson swooping for one of the very best available in Falcao?
[opinion-widget opid=”206841″ width=”full”]