Falcao has been out of form for some time and although he had a moment of magic at the weekend to win a penalty which turned the game for United, his overall performance was very muted.
Despite that, van Gaal insisted the choice to leave Falcao on the bench was purely from a tactical point of view rather than as a consequence of his form.
When questioned by Sky Sports ahead of kick-off about why Falcao was left on the bench, van Gaal said: “We want to beat the pressure with him. We expect Newcastle to press us, so maybe with Fellaini we’ll beat the pressing of Newcastle much easier.”
Falcao was also left out from United’s previous away trip to Swansea and van Gaal’s comments about pressure from Newcastle is indicative of the defensive minded approach he wanted to adopt, which is not much of a surprise given that United had only won three times away from home all season before tonight.