Radamel Falcao's shock omission poses more questions than answers over the striker's future at Manchester United

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Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by Southampton in the Premier League, Radamel Falcao did not even make Louis van Gaal's squad for the game,The Old Trafford club are still undecided over whether to offer the Colombia international a permanent contract

The question was simple enough: with Manchester United’s five star forwards all fit and ready to start, who would Louis van Gaal leave out against Southampton? When the answer became clear an hour before kick-off on Sunday, it was bad news for Radamel Falcao.

The Colombian was not only left out of the starting line-up, he wasn’t even on the bench. It soon became clear that he had been dropped and it is understood that Van Gaal had not explained the reasons why.

‘Falcao isn’t injured he’s just not selected in the squad,’ said the United boss, having admitted on the eve of this match that five players into four positions simply wouldn’t go.

‘It’s much more difficult selecting a side but that’s the task of the manager and I have a staff who advise me as well.’

‘We have now a lot of players who are coming back and he has played the last few matches in a row. Then I have to compare players with each other.

‘Now he is out of the 18 but that is this moment. Next week is another moment,' he added after the defeat.

‘We have now a lot of players who are coming back and he has played the last few matches in a row. Then I have to compare players with each other.

‘Now he is out of the 18 but that is this moment. Next week is another moment.’

The manner of Falcao’s omission was surprising, however, and will inevitably raise questions over his prospects of persuading United to part with the best part of £50million to turn his loan from Monaco into a permanent move at the end of the season.

Having spent much of the season building up his fitness for the rigours of English football after a serious knee injury and then recovering from a calf problem, Falcao will have every reason to be rather perplexed over this snub. Teenager James Wilson was preferred for a place on the bench, and it was unclear whether Falcao was even at Old Trafford.

He had started the previous five games despite the heavy workload over Christmas, scoring twice. It might not be quite £50m form, but he was certainly starting to find his feet in the Premier League after so many doubts had been raised.
In his absence, the rest of United’s expensive strikeforce looked very ordinary. They couldn’t even manage one shot on target, the first time that has happened since May 2009.

Van Gaal deployed Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata in central midfield, and asked Angel di Maria to play off Robin van Persie after the £59.7m signing returned to action with a goal in the FA Cup at Yeovil last weekend.

But Di Maria looked like a player who had been out of action for a while. So good at dead-ball situations usually, he threw his head back in frustration after firing one freekick straight into the legs of the first defender, and then failed to find Mata with a final ball nine minutes before half-time when Van Persie had lifted a pass over the Southampton defence.

Rooney lacked the creativity he has shown of late from midfield and Mata was guilty of missing two clear chances late in the game. By then, Van Persie and Di Maria had both left the field, leaving Marouane Fellaini to partner Rooney up front.

But Southampton coped comfortably with the threat despite losing centre-back Toby Alderweireld to injury early in the game. They were compact and disciplined, with Morgan Schneiderlin the pick of a very good bunch in his defensive midfield role alongside Victor Wanyama. source: dailymail.co.uk

Ronald Koeman will certainly enjoy this tactical victory over his old Dutch adversary Van Gaal and his embarrassment of riches.

Could Falcao have made a difference? Possibly. But the nature of his absence poses more questions than it answers.

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