Louis van Gaal: Falcao will be given chance to earn a Manchester United deal
Louis van Gaal will not make a call on Radamel Falcao's future until the striker has an extended run in the Manchester United first team.
Despite a difficult, injury-hit start to life at Old Trafford, Falcao this week spelled out his desire to stay at the club beyond the end of the season.
The Colombian, who is on a season-long loan from Monaco, says he is settled in Manchester and happy at the club despite scoring just once in eight appearances.
Van Gaal will not be rushed into making a decision on whether to exercise his right to sign the player in a £43.5million deal though.
The United manager wants the former Porto and Atletico Madrid striker to prove his fitness and form first.
"He hasn't played too much," Van Gaal said when asked about the possibility of signing Falcao.
"You cannot see too much of a player if he doesn't train so much. He has been injured a lot of the time. First you have to be fit.
"He is starting to show fitness in training sessions so maybe I shall select him (for today's game at Aston Villa), maybe for the bench or the line up. Let's wait and see."
Falcao's last start came on October 5 when he scored his one and only goal for the club against Everton.
Van Gaal fielded teenage striker James Wilson ahead of the two-time Ballon d'Or nominee for last week's 3-0 win over Liverpool.
The United boss also endured a difficult start to life in England, but his team have turned a corner of late.
The win over Liverpool kept United in third position, eight points shy of leaders Chelsea.
United may have won six successive games, but so far their performances have not been up to scratch, Van Gaal admits. Sir Alex Ferguson made a habit of winning titles on the back of occasionally scrappy displays, but Van Gaal, ever the perfectionist, wants to see performances as well as results.
"I am not only focused on results," said the Dutchman, who has won leagues in Holland, Spain and Germany.
"When I speak with Sir Alex (about playing badly and still winning), he says, 'It's not a problem, you have won', but for me it's also the performances that are very important.
"When you win six times in a row then the confidence is rising, but I am still looking for a game that is closer to the perfect game."
Liverpool managed to breach the United defence on several occasions last weekend, but they could not find a way past David de Gea, who put in yet another outstanding display in goal.
The 24-year-old won the man of the match award against the Reds after saving superbly from Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli.
Just like he did post-match on Sunday, Van Gaal snapped when asked about the progress of negotiations with the Spaniard over an extension to his current contract, which expires in 18 months.
"No," was his terse reply when questioned on the subject.
Van Gaal also bristled when pressed about Victor Valdes, the former Barcelona goalkeeper who has been training at United for two months.
Valdes is currently recovering from a serious knee injury and is free to sign for any club.
Liverpool have been linked with the 32-year-old after Brendan Rodgers dropped Simon Mignolet last weekend.
When asked about the reports linking Valdes with Anfield, Van Gaal said: "Then he goes to Liverpool."
Van Gaal said British record signing Angel di Maria could return from a hamstring injury for today's game.
"Maybe I shall select him on the bench or in the team. There's one training session to go," Van Gaal said of the £59.7million signing, who has missed the last three games.
Marouane Fellaini has been ruled out through illness.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert believes United can still win the league title this season.
Van Gaal's side are outsiders to lift the trophy after the Dutch coach's bedding-in period left them eight points behind leaders Chelsea, who are fighting it out with Manchester City at the top.
United have looked suspect in defence for much of the season so far but recent signs of improvement have convinced Lambert they should not be written off.
"They might not be able to lose many more games if they are going to win the title but they're certainly in with a shout," said the Villa boss.
"It is still a brilliant club with great players. The players they have brought in, there are not many teams in world football who can do that. They're a really good side.
"Just because they've changed managers doesn't change my thinking of that football club.
"Chelsea and City have lost less games. But if United don't win it they will certainly have a big say in who does.
"If we win it's good for us. We have to win for ourselves, it's got nothing to do with stopping United."