QPR v Man United
Today: Loftus Road, 3pm
Louis van Gaal has ordered Radamel Falcao to show him why he deserves a future at Manchester United.
United were hailed as the big winners on deadline day last September when they beat at host of their rivals to sign Falcao on a £6m (€7.8m) loan deal from Monaco.
United chartered a private jet to fly the coveted striker over from the principality and the two-time Ballon d’Or nominee was given a standing ovation and a loud roar from the United fans when he made his debut against QPR.
Going into the reverse fixture today, the tables have turned somewhat. To the bemusement of many fans, a fully-fit Falcao was left out of the squad for last week’s 1-0 defeat against Southampton, with Van Gaal preferring to put three centre-backs and 19-year-old James Wilson on the bench instead.
Van Gaal stands by his decision and at a frosty press conference yesterday the United boss warned Falcao he still has to demonstrate he is worth more game time, and a permanent move to Old Trafford.
“He has to prove himself, that we have agreed,” said the United manager, who has the option to buy the striker for £43.5m (€57m) at the end of the season.
“We have made this deal and everything is clear and it is not the end of the year so he has the chance for that.”
In 2013 Monaco paid no less than £50m (€65.5m) to sign the striker, who is reported to be on around £280,000 (€367,000) a week at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal could not care less about how much the player is worth though.
“If a player costs £95m (€124.5m) or £5,000 (€6,500) it’s not any difference for me,” the Dutchman said.
“You have to prove yourself.”
Falcao’s agent Jorge Mendes rejected to opportunity to quash speculation on his client’s future this week.
“The truth is, right now we don’t know what will happen,” Mendes said.
“What we do know is that he will play in one of the very best clubs in the world next season, whether that is Manchester United or not.”
For Van Gaal, the situation is much more clear — a return of three goals in 13 appearances is not good enough.
Van Gaal insists he has no option but to take a hard-line stance with the forward, who has suffered with injury problems since his move.
“If I am not like that, maybe he has less motivation,” Van Gaal said.
“I have to be like that.”
Falcao’s chances of starting at Loftus Road today looked to have been strengthened when Robin van Persie hobbled off in the second half of the loss to Saints with an ankle injury.
But Van Gaal said the striker’s injury was not serious, so he has an outside chance of playing this weekend, it seems.
“It is a minor injury. I don’t think it’s a great problem,” Van Gaal said.
For his part, QPR manager Harry Redknapp claims he has the continued backing of owner Tony Fernandes despite rumours he will be sacked if QPR lose this weekend.
“It’s in one paper yeah, but who knows?” said Redknapp.
“You’ve got to beat Man United? They could have picked an easier one, couldn’t they?
“I take no notice of that.
“I’ve got a great relationship with the club and the shareholders.”
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