THE BLOG

Manchester United Fans Should Never Have Expected So Much From Radamel Falcao

01/05/2015 17:54 BST | Updated 01/05/2016 10:12 BST

Rarely has a Premier League transfer brought so much excitement, but Radamel Falcao's arrival at Manchester United on summer deadline day 2014 was met with huge approval from fans looking for a new Old Trafford hero.

Here was an individual who just over a year earlier was widely regarded as the best out and out striker in the world. The only difference between that player and the one that rocked up in England was a devastating knee injury - that right there should have tempered expectations immediately, but it didn't.

Of course, initially it was a concern. When his transfer was going through there were rumours that the Colombian superstar had failed his medical. However, it didn't seem to register too much, quickly slipping to the backs of people's minds, with various assessments of his performances subsequently forgetting the kind of long term recovery he actually required.

The player was rushed back to fitness from a career threatening injury in just five months - all so he could try and make his country's World Cup squad. Ultimately he wasn't quite ready in time, but was soon back in action for Monaco during pre-season.

Memories in football are getting shorter by the day and those who now smugly claim he was a flop at United from the moment he stepped off the plane couldn't be more wrong.

Falcao actually began his United career quite well. In his first three starts he managed two assists and a goal - the winner against Everton at Old Trafford in October. After that, his playing time was limited due to further fitness problems, but he scored upon his return to the starting line-up against Aston Villa in December.

Another assist followed on Boxing Day, with another goal on New Year's Day. It wasn't spectacular, but it was steady progress. Falcao played well against QPR in mid-January and rounded off the month with a goal against Leicester.

The day after his 29th birthday he provided an assist in a home win over Burnley, but since then things have been incredibly tough and he hasn't added any more to his goal tally.

As a result of not scoring, a false and unfair perception has emerged - one of a hapless no-hoper who couldn't hit a barn door, a cow's arse or anything else for that matter. But prior to starting against Chelsea, Falcao had been given just 34 minutes of playing time in the previous four games.

All of the flak seemed to have taken its toll though. Hair always sleek and shiny and face always shaven, Falcao used to look every bit the classy footballer. But more recently he doesn't look like he's seen a bottle of conditioner in weeks and has developed a rugged stubble that has more of the 'homeless' than the 'designer' about it.

But his actual ability shouldn't be in question.

Falcao's contribution has been twisted beyond recognition to turn it into something comical. He's not been missing chance after chance as people might have you believe. A sole shot on target against Everton was his first in 440 minutes. That in itself still sounds bad, but what it all comes down to is sharpness, strength and overall fitness.

It's not that he's been spurning opportunities any more frequently than any other Premier League striker - he's physically not been able to get himself into the positions where team-mates can pick him out.

Earlier in the season he was strong on the ball, holding off defenders and bringing others into play, but that has unfortunately been lost as the season progressed. Against Chelsea it was Falcao's inability to shield the ball from John Terry that directly led to the only goal of the game.

Now his lack of recovery time since last January is really beginning to catch up with him and fast.

Falcao simply wasn't ready for a full season in a league programme as action packed as England's. He is crying out for a proper summer's rest and with that under his belt there is every chance the Falcao of old will rise from the dead.

United still have the first option on the Colombian this summer and he could yet be a permanent fixture. The club is still taking its time with regard to that, recently meeting with Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev to discuss it further.

Louis van Gaal certainly has more faith than he ever did in Danny Welbeck or Javier Hernandez and keeping Falcao still makes sense. Expectations for this season got out of hand, but if he does stay on it will be a wholly 'different' player that is stepping onto the Old Trafford turf next season.

For more fan views or to join the conversation visit www.90min.com