Radamel Falcao out in cold as Louis van Gaal opts for teenager over £20m man
Louis van Gaal created fresh doubts about the Old Trafford future of Radamel Falcao last night after admitting that, having surveyed his attitude and performance in training, he selected 19-year-old James Wilson ahead of him to face Southampton.
In a baffling and contradictory post-match press conference, Van Gaal said that he wanted Wilson's pace because he had expected Angel di Maria, starting his first match since November, to leave the field early - and then replaced Di Maria with Ander Herrera instead.
But the Manchester United manager did not disguise the fact he preferred Wilson to Falcao, who was not even among United players' in the directors' box, having been left out of the squad.
"The reason is that I (didn't pick Falcao is that) I have to see and I have to compare players in my selection and that is what I am doing when we train. And then I have to look through the composition of my selection and what I can do during the match and what players I have," Van Gaal said.
Falcao has scored three goals in England after an outlay of around £20m on him including wages of £265,000-a-week.
Unless the Colombian begins contributing soon, he will be bracketed as the worst value investment that United have laid out on a player.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman said the exclusion surprised him. "But if he is injured, it is normal. Maybe it is a good question to Mr Van Gaal."
Van Gaal said that Southampton's win had been an injustice as they had sought only to defend.
"We were the dominating team," he declared.
"We didn't choose the right solutions in the third and fourth phase but that is also because Southampton defended in a very small space and very well organised. They came for a draw and they got away with a victory."
Koeman said that he had seen a weakness in United which was exploitable.
"Always you analyse your opponent and you know that they have difficulties to build up with three centre-backs," he observed. "The second half we pressed them better than the first. They have a lot of qualities from the midfield to the attack. Fantastic players so you need really good players to stop that."
Van Gaal denied the suggestion that the build-up was flawed. "I don't think so, because we were the dominating team," he said. "You see that today. You know what a lot of people are thinking. For me it is not any question."
Koeman's only discontentment was with Dusan Tadic, who was booked for taking off his shirt when he scored.
"It is a yellow card and a stupid fault, your second and it is a red," said Koeman. "When it is the last minute of the season and you have qualified for Europe, it is no problem."