Ex-England and Manchester United defender Paul Parker has backed Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria’s ability and blamed Louis van Gaal for their recent form.
Writing in his column for Eurosport, the ex-Red Devils full-back questioned the critics of Falcao and Di Maria by claiming four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi would struggle to shine under the Dutch coach’s tactics.
“Di Maria has lost form, Falcao has lost form,” Parker wrote. “Everyone is trying to say Falcao hasn’t recovered from his knee injury. We don’t know if he has or not. He is being asked to operate like an old-fashioned centre forward and is trying to collect the ball most times on his Adam’s apple.
“Di Maria is the same. He is struggling to play in the system because it is all very rigid and unattractive under LVG.
“The slower the ball the moves, there is no space for Di Maria. There is no intensity to United’s game. If Lionel Messi was to play in that United team, he would struggle for the simple reason that by the time he gets the ball, three players would be on him and would knock him off the ball too.”
Are Van Gaal’s tactics really to blame?
The plight of Di Maria and Falcao hasn’t been as straight forward as suggested by Parker because both have come under different circumstances.
Falcao has been plagued with an injury since his move to England and no matter what system the former Barcelona manager tries to implement, the ex-Atletico Madrid man constantly looks like a square peg in a round hole.
The Colombian simply hasn’t lived up to expectations at United, so regardless of the performances from his teammates, he doesn’t really deserve to hide behind the excuse of the manager’s tactics.
Di Maria, however, has already shown this season that he can be a huge asset for United and has only recently started to struggle for form.
The Argentine hit the ground running following his big money move from Real Madrid, but a positional change seems to have upset his rhythm and performances in recent weeks. Results haven’t been impacted in the tactical change, so Van Gaal may not be worried, but it does look like the 27-year-old is struggling a little.
Nevertheless, it’s unlikely the United boss will continue to play Di Maria in a position he doesn’t look comfortable in and will undoubtedly look to rectify the problem to get the winger firing on all cylinders again.