Having finished in such a disappointing seventh place at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, it was obvious that new Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal would be spending big money as the club’s new manager. Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw arrived before the Dutchman had officially left his role as Netherlands’ Head Coach before United went on the smash the British record with a £59.7m deal to bring Angel Di Maria to Old Trafford.
Despite that high profile acquisition, the loan signing of Radamel Falcao is the one that’s really captured the imagination and while this is a temporary move for now, it’s expected that United’s owners will try to sign the Colombian on a permanent basis. If that happens, where does it leave the remainder of the current strike force?
Who is under pressure?
Manchester United endured a poor start to the season with just two points from their opening three matches but an emphatic, 4-0 thumping of QPR left them as third favourites with Matchbook to win the Premier League at the end of 2014-15.
Falcao’s arrival makes United a far more attractive prospect for anyone happy to stake on the club but where does it leave Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie?
Those looking on from the outside might feel that Rooney is the obvious fall guy here: This is a man who was supposedly on the brink of a move to Chelsea when David Moyes took over from Sir Alex Ferguson and a stellar striker such as Falcao offers plenty in the way of competition.
However, don’t forget that Van Gaal entrusted the England striker with the Captain’s armband at the start of this campaign. Rooney is in charge and back in his favoured position in central attack and having put to bed his feud with Fergie, the 28 year old seems happier on the pitch than he has been for a number of years.
No Dutch Delight?
In contrast, Robin Van Persie looks far more vulnerable, particularly as the Dutch striker continues to struggle with the types of injuries that have punctuated his career since arriving in England. It’s true that Van Gaal will know his compatriot and will surely trust him on the field of play but RVP has to get on that pitch on a regular basis if he is to retain his usual slot in the starting XI.
While at Feyenoord, Van Persie learned most of his craft on the wing and he continued to play wide during his early days with Arsenal. A switch to the flanks remains an option for the 31 year old but he will surely be reluctant after a successful spell in central attack that includes two successive Golden Boot trophies.
Van Gaal may also want to promote James Wilson to a regular spot on the subs’ bench after the youngster scored twice on his debut against Hull last season. Suddenly, Manchester United have some serious options in attack but what does Radamel Falcao’s arrival mean for individual members of the existing strike force and who is the most vulnerable member of the squad?