Radamel Falcao is back to his best, and I think we’re all happy about it. The Colombian was close to being the world’s best striker and seeing the former Atletico Madrid man fail so badly in England was a shame for all fans of football.
Falcao’s miserable time in England culminated in just four strikes for Manchester United in 29 games, and just the one goal in 12 games for Chelsea. An awful rate for a striker who had 70 goals in 91 games for Atletico Madrid. The injuries and the No.9 losing a yard of pace, coupled with the fast nature of the Premier League was not a combination which helped the Colombian find his fitness or confidence; it was crippling the player, to the extent where the striker could barely get a game.
“In England, I had two complicated years. There were a number of reasons for that… The context was not easy there. And it was even more difficult because I was not playing.”
Like any sportsmen, confidence is key. A bit of it, and suddenly you have that extra stroke of luck, that extra spring in your step. So what was going wrong in England? For starters, at Manchester United, you had a manager in Louis van Gaal who was sucking this confidence out of a player. United players have said how the Dutchman would ridicule anyone for a mistake they made, to the extent where they were scared of expressing themselves. It got as bad that, back in 2015, Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick had to call a meeting with van Gaal to express how low the players were – almost terrified of the manager’s notes in *that* notebook.
“For me, it’s an extremely valuable aid, so it’s not important what other people think. First I always jot down the collective mistakes that go against the pre-planned tactics. That’s the most important aspect.”
Louis van Gaal
This sort of approach, and lack of ‘arm around the shoulder’ type of character needed for Falcao was stopping any form of momentum the Colombian could gather.
What’s also clear to see, as to why Falcao is thriving so much more now he’s back in France, is the system the striker is playing in. Where the formation of a 4-2-3-1 has become so widely used in the Premier League – both used by Falcao’s managers in England – the striker was struggling to occupy the single striker role.
Monaco regularly play with a 4-4-2, with Falcao often being paired with either Valere Germain or Kylian Mbappé. This sort of expansive football, and the other outlets Falcao has alongside him, is hugely benefiting his game – he’s already found the net 24 times in 29 games this season.
The former Atletico man is also benefiting from the service given to him by Monaco’s wide men. Both full-backs, Fabinho in particular, looked so efficient with their deliveries against Manchester City, that it’s understandable why Monaco have been so free-scoring this season.
Falcao is brilliant in the air, highlighted by his first goal against Manchester City. And the fact the five goals he had in England, three of them came from his head. Therefore, the improved service and more expansive system Monaco are playing, is suited to the Colombian’s strengths.
Finally, El Tigre is being utilised in a system and by players that he became so accustomed to in Spain. He’s been given the extra bit of confidence by being given the Monaco armband, and that added bit of responsibility is reaping rewards for the 31-year-old.
With Falcao being back to his best, he’s certainly too good for Monaco; who else is better than their club?