Radamel Falcao will once again start from the bench for Manchester United as Louis van Gaal has revealed he still isn’t fit enough for a place in the starting XI.
The Colombian has made two consecutive substitute appearances for United and there were hopes he was now ready to make a full return but Van Gaal has confirmed that he is still short of fitness.
Van Gaal also made it clear he didn’t want any player to feel they were above U21s football because it is something he believes players need on their road to recovery:
“I’m not interested,” Van Gaal said when asked about potential frustrations from Falcao.
“He has to follow my philosophy. Do you understand that? Yes, I’m here because of that.”
Asked if Falcao not starting since his return from injury was down to a lack of fitness, Van Gaal added: “Yes, match fitness.
“He has trained now maybe two days after the match [with Hull]. So we had the match against Stoke on Tuesday when he played for 15 minutes. Then we had the training sessions after Tuesday. And before Tuesday I didn’t train – I trained the box exercise. You know the box exercise? Yeah? It is not a training session.
“We had to play again within two days after the Hull City game, then I have to recover the players. Then I cannot train him. After Tuesday I can train him. And we have trained very well on Wednesday. Then Thursday they are off. I can say to him to train but, no, we have trained before that.
“Then on Friday we had a training session. So he has trained in two training sessions. But a bigger contribution is to play in the second team for 45 or 60 minutes or even 90 minutes – what Jonny Evans has done already. But I cannot do that because I need him because [Wayne] Rooney was injured [for Stoke]. James Wilson was injured also [for Hull]. I have to adapt to the needs of the selection. Then I selected him in spite of the fact he can only play 20 minutes at that level because the rhythm of the game in the Premier League is the highest.”
Everybody wants Falcao to return as soon as possible but until the time comes when he is completely match fit and ready, then Van Gaal won’t risk him.
However, the catch 22 here is that Falcao would progress much faster the more game time he had under his belt, so a fine line has to be found which is why he has been used sparingly as a substitute since returning from injury.
The last thing Falcao or Van Gaal wants is for his injury to flare up because he has come back too soon. Falcao is more than likely frustrated at his slow re-integration into the team but Van Gaal seems to be taking the pragmatic, measured approach in order to eliminate as much risk as possible which isn’t the worst idea in the world.