Falcao still top of the flops


He made his name with Porto, and added to his allure with darting runs across opposition defences for Atletico Madrid and Monaco during five glorious years in European football.

Chelsea away is a tough one to come into, and Falcao was only thrown in against the Barclays Premier League leaders because manager Louis van Gaal was short of bodies.

Falcao is yet to score against any top-level Premier League team, with his meagre return coming in games against Everton, Aston Villa, Stoke City and Leicester City.

There were a couple of notable chances, with a left-foot effort wide of Thibaut Courtois’ left-hand post and another, 10 minutes later, which bounced back off a post.

It is sad to say but the knee injury he suffered in the build-up to last summer’s World Cup has cost him that critical yard of pace. In his heart, he must know that.

The United forward was schooled, denied space and room to breathe by the constant, intimidating presence of Chelsea captain John Terry. Falcao lost almost every key battle at Stamford Bridge. When a game gets niggly, as it did in the lead-up to Chelsea’s winning goal from Eden Hazard on 38 minutes, Terry excels.

For a man of his experience, Falcao should have been stronger, shielding the ball when he took a buffeting from Terry on the halfway line.

Seconds later, Chelsea had taken the lead.

There was another skirmish before the break, a collision that ended with Terry jabbing a finger in Falcao’s face after they had landed together in a crumpled heap.

Terry was on top of him, taking the responsibility for marking the United forward away from his defensive partner Gary Cahill. This central pairing, with their constant communication, pass strikers over for fun these days. Falcao was no different.

He looked like a man short of match fitness and the sharpness expected of a player in a game of this magnitude. This was a start, but Falcao has been restricted to substitute appearances of late.

He had just 19 touches in the first half, failing to take any of them in Chelsea’s penalty area during a period when Van Gaal’s team were operating at almost full throttle.

In Sir Alex Ferguson’s era, the club was blessed with great strikers, from Andy Cole to Ruud van Nistelrooy to Wayne Rooney. All of them pulled on the United shirt in their prime.

Ferguson was here at the Bridge, watching this new team take shape under their Dutch coach, and he will know that they are crying out for a fully fit forward.

Falcao is indifferent, short of confidence (and goals) after a frustrating eight months since his move on loan from Monaco for the season.

He is crying out for help, desperate to roll back the years after spending so much of the season out of the picture.

Sadly, for a man of his stature, he is trading on memories now.

Falcao’s attacking threat was nullified by Terry to such an extent that he failed to touch the ball in Chelsea’s penalty area for the entire first half

Mail On Sunday

Original source: Falcao still top of the flops