Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal defended his decision to leave
Colombia talisman Radamel Falcao out of the squad after he saw his
side's 10-match unbeaten Premier League run ended by Southampton on
Falcao, on loan from French club Monaco, scored in United's last league
game against Stoke City and had begun to look sharp, but was not even on
the bench as United toiled to respond when trailing 1-0 against a
Asked afterwards for an explanation, Van Gaal said he had been forced to
have several defenders on standby because of concerns over the fitness
of Luke Shaw and Daley Blind.
Yet he still had young striker James Wilson on the bench, rather than Falcao.
"You have to compare players before the match. After the match you can
say if a player should participate and you could have won, but you shall
never know," van Gaal said during a tense post-match press conference.
"I decided he is out of the 18 because I have to change Luke Shaw and
Angel Di Maria for example. You have to look at the needs of your
selection at the time. Marouane Fellaini came in and because of his
substitution we created three chances."
The result pushed Manchester United down into fourth place, below Southampton.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman said earlier this week Manchester
United should be challenging for the title after spending £150 million
over the summer.
But it was a new face at Southampton, Serbian Dusan Tadic bought from
Dutch side Twente in the summer, who proved the difference between the
two sides and eclipsed United's British record signing, the near £60
million Angel Di Maria.
Koeman talked up Southampton's Champions League qualification prospects
after the result and said a draw against Chelsea and a win over Arsenal
during the festive period had grown belief among the players.
"I am not surprised that we won today, because I know the players. I
know the organisation in the team. We have 11 clean sheets now by 21
games, I think if we keep the spirit we can keep in front in the table,"