Radamel Falcao’s problem began at Monaco not Manchester United

by Leo Nieboer

The beginning of June 2013 saw Radamel Falcao begin life at Monaco. He wasn’t expected to stay for long. His time in the glamorous French principality was supposed to be a quick pit stop before zooming off to the Bernabeu but he instead took a de-tour to Old Trafford in what was a surprising deadline day move to Manchester United.

Since arriving to a fanfare, Falcao has struggled to find his form and there are real concerns as to the reasons behind him playing like a shadow of his former self. Was it simply down to his knee surgery?

The Peoples Person spoke to Robin Brainer, French football writer for Goal.com, about Falcao’s time at Monaco to find out what the feelings were towards Falcao during his time at the club: “Was he the player he was at Atletico Madrid even pre-injury? Frankly, no, he wasn’t.

“His scoring rate remained high [9 in 17] but he didn’t decimate Ligue 1 defences in the manner that had been predicted.”

His scoring rate makes for an interesting point. Falcao found the net at a rate of more than a goal every other game (9 in 17) but didn’t look like the same player who wreaked havoc in La Liga mere months earlier.

When speaking to Robin, it became obvious that rip-roaring performances, which had become commonplace under Simeone, didn’t occur under Ranieri.

The inability to be as effective can be put down to several factors. Firstly, you have to acknowledge the difficulty of moving away from familiar surroundings – you leave your friends and family and you need to embrace a different language, as well as the difficulty of adjusting to a new group of players and brand of football. It can hamper performances.

If he hadn’t suffered such a nasty injury so early into his Monaco career, things may have been different for him. However, this excuse doesn’t suffice when it comes to Falcao’s time at Manchester United. Six months in, his ‘teething’ period is well and truly over.

Falcao’s lack of domination in Monaco can also be put down to a factor that applies to Louis van Gaal – the system, which Robin also touched on.

He added: “It has to be said that Falcao never really looked part of the Monaco system. They typically played a 4-2-3-1 but he was peripheral and rarely involved in the game aside from in a scoring capacity.”

On paper, this system really benefits the striker with two wide players willing to exploit defences, playing in crosses, and a man in behind who draws in defenders and looks to create space for Falcao to run into and score.

“I was surprised that a big club like Man United would take a gamble on him. If he continued his Monaco form he was destined to be an expensive failure anywhere.”

However, when the expansive 4-2-3-1 isn’t carried out properly, it can leave the striker isolated. Falcao was unable to be involved in the Monaco system in seemingly the same way as the current Man United system ostracises him so badly. Neither system (when not executed brilliantly) allow for a penalty box predator to prosper.

Robin added this when he talked on the subject of Falcao’s injury and how the change of system affected others at Monaco: “It is also interesting to note that James Rodriguez only really began to flourish following Falcao’s injury.”

What if it had been the other way round? Imagine if Rodriguez had suffered a nasty injury and subsequently forced a system change that benefited Falcao. Would the latter have gone on to get the World Cup golden boot and a move to Real Madrid instead? Who knows.

Robin, who was critical of Falcao when it came to his time as Monaco, didn’t feel it was fair to label the Colombian a flop but voiced his disappointment at his stint in Monaco: “Given he still found the net regularly, it would be harsh to describe him as a transfer flop, but more was expected given his reputation and the massive outlay Monaco made for him.

“I was surprised that a big club like Man United would take a gamble on him. If he continued his Monaco form he was destined to be an expensive failure anywhere.”

Continuing his Monaco form has been exactly what Falcao has done to date which is why Man United fans are understandably concerned about him, concerns which Monaco fans shared during his time at the French club.

You may also like