Michael Lintorn thinks that Radamel Falcao is receiving an unfair amount of criticism for his form this season…
What do Mamadou Sakho and Radamel Falcao have in common? The answer is that both recently appeared for their clubs’ U21 teams a day after being unused substitutes as the senior sides endured disappointing home FA Cup results.
The key difference is that while the former incident attracted little fanfare – instead being interpreted for what it was: a chance to improve match fitness to enhance his first-team utility – the latter has been the subject of near-universal derision.
The Daily Telegraph detailed “a new low”, The Daily Star saw it as “rock bottom“, The Mirror listed it as the moment that proved his Man United career is “all but over” and The Daily Mail sought to win the hyperbole war by labelling it “the ultimate indignity”.
Falcao’s display was also dissected and ridiculed, with his substitution after 71 minutes supposedly adding to the humiliation of the spectacle rather than being done to ensure that he isn’t overworked before Man United’s important weekend clash with Tottenham, which they are 1.9520/21 to win.
The narrative rather contradicts the one that newspapers were peddling 24 hours earlier when Louis van Gaal stood up for the Colombian amidst attempts to depict the decision to sell Danny Welbeck and loan him as idiocy, referencing his assists and ability to stimulate his colleagues.
While the 29-year-old clearly hasn’t made the desired impact, there is pretty much no evidence available to suggest that Welbeck would be faring any better.
Falcao has scored as many Premier League goals as the Arsenal forward in five fewer starts and a weaker-performing side and has him beaten for assists. Add in his two August Ligue 1 strikes before heading to Old Trafford and he has actually out-fired him this term.
The former Porto and Atletico Madrid favourite has more to give too. He netted 16-plus league goals in all of the last four campaigns in which he played 22 or more games (Welbeck’s career high is nine) and three of his four Man United league strikes came in the past three months, compared to one for his predecessor.
Finally, whereas the England international has profited from Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla producing some of the best form of their careers, Falcao has also been hindered by many in his support cast, most notably Angel Di Maria, delivering some of their worst.