10th February – Radamel Falcao

Radamel Falcao has been one of the most prolific goalscorers in Europe over the last few years but his move to Manchester United has been very stop start because of injuries and he hasn’t quite lived up to what people expected.

Just four goals in 16 games is not that great for someone with his talents but as everyone knows the English league does take more time to adapt than any other. It is up in the air whether he will be given more than just this season at Old Trafford but it is not just him that is suffering, Robin Van Persie doesn’t look the same player this year and Wayne Rooney is being asked to play a lot deeper which has restricted his goalscoring opportunities.

Falcao is now 29 but remarkably he made his debut 16 years ago as a 13 year old in the Colombian Categoria Primera B on the 28th August 1999 for Lanceros Boyaca. Over the next two years he played eight games and scored one goal which is incredible. His performances convinced Argentinean side River Plate to sign him and after playing in their youth team he finally made his first team debut in 2005. Manager Reinaldo Merlo placed a lot of trust in Falcao and he repaid him with seven goals in seven games. But a knee injury meant that he was out for the next six months.

Falcao RP

He recovered from this and after two great seasons he was being linked with moves to Europe and eventually on the 15th July 2009 he joined Portuguese side Porto and was an instant success, scoring in the first four league matches and finished his first season with 34 goals in all competitions. The Europa League became his favourite competition as he scored a lot of goals in both years and ended the 2010-11 season with 17 goals in 14 games and just proved to everyone he should be playing at a higher level. He had found the back 72 times in all competitions for the club in just two seasons.

FC Porto's Colombian forward Radamel Fal

On the 18th August 2011 Falcao did make the move away and joined Spanish side Atletico Madrid. The goals kept flowing for him and he was once again lethal in the Europa League, helping the team win the trophy like he had done with Porto. He ended his first campaign with 36 goals, the highest ever for a player in his first year at the club. In the following season he inevitably scored goals but he also adapted his game slightly and became more than just a goalscorer and this was most shown in the Copa Del Rey final win over Real Madrid when he produced a fantastic performance and didn’t even score which would have been a rare for him earlier in his career.

Falcao AM

Then came one of the most surprising moves when he decided to leave Atletico and join Monaco. It seemed like it was going to be business as normal for the striker when he scored on his debut against Bordeaux. After hitting 11 goals in 19 games he suffered an injury that not only kept him out for the rest of the season but also the World Cup. He did return on the 10th August 2014 and scored against Lorient and then added another against Nantes before making another surprising move on loan to Manchester United.

It took him until the 5th October to score his first goal in a victory over Everton but they haven’t really flown for him since and he needs a productive end to the season if he wants to stay at the club.

The final word can go to another former Colombian striker that played in the Premier League Faustino Asprilla. “He’s a great goalscorer, a natural finisher and is among the best in the world in that position. His move took everybody by surprise. I’m sure he will do very well for Manchester United.”

Advertisements

24th October – Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney will divide opinion as he had the potential to become one of the best in the world and some say he has reached that in his career whereas others say that he has failed to live up to expectations.

The striker is 29 and if he doesn’t pick up any serious injuries he will become Manchester United’s all time top scorer and also beat Bobby Charlton’s 49 goals at international level. With 43 goals for England in 99 games it is a good record but he has largely failed in the main competitions which has left England fans more frustrated with him than any other.

He started his career at Everton and made his debut against Tottenham Hotspur in 2002. His breakthrough moment was when he scored a last minute winner against Arsenal on the 19th October and followed this up by scoring the winner against Leeds United. In December he was named BBC’s Young Personality of the Year, scored another winning goal against Blackburn Rovers and then received his first red card against Birmingham City. He ended his first season with eight goals and in the following campaign and he remained very consistent, scoring nine times throughout the season.
Rooney Everton
Rooney signed for Manchester United in August 2004 but had to wait to make his debut and he scored a hatrick in a win over Fenerbahce in the Champions League. Despite scoring 17 goals and being named the PFA Young Player of the Year, the club did not win a trophy. Rooney would go on to win his first trophy in the following season as they beat Wigan Athletic 4-0 in the League Cup final, with him grabbing two. The 2006-07 season was an interesting one for Rooney as he went 10 games without scoring but managed 14 goals and picked up his first Premier League winners medal. In June 2007 he was given the number 10 shirt and despite missing game time in the opening half of the season he recovered to help the club retain the title and also win the Champions League.
England v Ireland - International Friendly
He was never prolific until the 2009-10 season. On the 22nd August 2009 he became the 20th player to score 100 goals for the club when he scored twice in a win over Wigan. During the season he was particularly good at scoring with his head and did this in the final of the League Cup against Aston Villa to help his side win the game. An injury against Bayern Munich slowed him down but he finished the season with 34 goals. After the season there were reports that Rooney wanted to leave but he made a U-turn and signed a new deal.
Despite not hitting the same standard as the previous season he still scored his 100th Premier League goal and helped the team win the title. He returned to his brilliant best in the 2011-12 season and started fantastically, scoring consecutive hatricks in the early weeks against Arsenal and Bolton. By the end of the season he had scored 34 goals.
Rooney MU7
After the signing of Robin Van Persie, many felt that Rooney was no longer the main man and despite them combining well and helping the club win another title, Alex Ferguson revealed that Rooney had handed in a transfer request. New manager David Moyes convinced the striker to stay and he did his best for the manager, scoring 17 goals and providing 10 assists but it was a disappointing season. Under Louis Van Gaal, he was named the club captain and scored on the opening day against Swansea City but a red card against West Ham has put doubt on whether he is the right man for the job.

The final word can go to former captain Peter Schmeichel. “What I really like about Rooney is his attitude towards playing for United. Wherever the manager tells him to play he will do that with a smile on his face. He realises his importance to the team. So I think he’s the obvious choice for the captaincy.”

14th August – Ander Herrera

Ander Herrera will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season with Manchester United chasing him for a long time and finally getting their man.

Herrera, now, 25, is being touted as the player the club have needed since Paul Scholes retired (both times) and if he is expected to live up to those expectations then it certainly won’t be easy but in pre season he has proved that he can pick a pass and some of his through balls will have definitely got Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie excited to play alongside him. The central midfield area has been a problem for Manchester United for a number of seasons now and it could finally be sorted.

The midfielder started his career at Real Zaragoza where he first made his name in the ‘B’ team where he played 10 league games and scored two goals before being moved to the first team during the 2008-09 season. At the time Zaragoza were in the second division of Spanish football and with the emergence of Herrera in their midfield they gained promotion back to the top flight. Herrera played 19 times and added another two goals to his career total.
Herrera RZ
In his first season in La Liga Herrera was one of the most used players in the Zaragoza squad and he was vital in keeping them in the league and once again scored two goals in his 30 appearances. Despite a change of manager in the following campaign he was still one of the main players in the squad and was giving more impressive performances as his experience grew. Again he scored two league goals, which shows he was consistent in that department. But it was not his goalscoring that was catching the eye, it was his solid tackling and his very good passing statistics.

Athletic Bilbao were the team that decided to buy the player and bring him back to his hometown club. This would have been a great moment for the midfielder as Bilbao only sign players from the Basque area and it is seen as a huge honour to represent Bilbao if you are Basque.
Herrera AB
Herrera made his debut in a Europe League tie with Turkish side Trabzonspor and in his first season he appeared in 54 games in all competitions as the club reached the final of both the Copa Del Rey and the Europa League. Unfortunately they lost both but it was in the Europa League that first made Manchester United aware of Herrera as he performed brilliantly over two legs as Bilbao won both home and away.

It has been since then that Manchester United have been linked with the midfielder but he stayed at Bilbao for another two seasons and in total he played 128 games for Bilbao scoring 11 goals. His low goalscoring record should not be a worry for the fans at Old Trafford as he is certainly more of a deep lying playmaker and someone that should provide a lot of chances for their more attacking players.
Herrera MU
The final word can go to Ryan Giggs on the new signing. “Ander is a fantastic young player, with great energy and creativity. We believe him to be one of the brightest young prospects in Spain and I am certain he will be a big hit with the United fans.”

8th August – Louis Saha

The scorer of the quickest goal in an FA Cup final turns 36 today and that man is someone that scored consistently most of his career.

Whenever Louis Saha stepped on the pitch defenders knew they were in for a long afternoon and had to deal with his clever movement and fantastic finishing ability. The only reason the striker did not quite get as many goals as his quality deserved was because of injury problems but he still enjoyed a lot of success, particularly in England where he spent most of his career.

He began his career with Metz in 1995 before moving to the senior squad in 1997 where he played 21 league games in his first season scoring one goal. His performances impressed enough to earn him a move to Premier League club Newcastle United on loan in January 1999. While at the club he scored one league goal in 11 games and also scored in their run to the FA Cup final, however he was left out of the squad to play in the final and returned to Metz. He stayed at the French club for one more season before moving back to England.

Fulham signed the striker for £2.1 million in 2000 and scored 27 goals in his first season to help the club get promoted to the Premier League. He took to the league much quicker this time and ended the year with eight league goals. In the following season he was not as successful because of injuries but did still manage five goals in 17 games. In his final season he showed his true quality and by January he had 15 goals in just 22 games which convinced Manchester United to sign the forward for £12.4 million.
Saha Fulham
Saha impressed immediately by scoring seven times in his first 10 starts including a goal on his debut against Southampton. The following year was very stop start as he had niggling injuries and only made 22 appearances. In the 2005-06 season he became Wayne Rooney’s main strike partner after a good run of form in front of goal which meant that Ruud Van Nistelrooy had to settle for a place on the bench for large periods of the season. Saha ended the campaign with 15 goals and began the next very well however injuries once again caught up with him and he could not fulfil his potential.
Saha MU
The 2007-08 season followed a similar pattern and this turned out to be his last at Old Trafford as he left for Everton. It was in this season that he scored after just 25 seconds in the FA Cup final against Chelsea, unfortunately Everton went on to lose the game. In the 2009-10 season he also went on a good goalscoring run by scoring in seven consecutive games and ended the season with 13 Premier League goals. He left Everton in January 2012 to join Tottenham Hotspur and on his full debut for the club he scored twice in a 5-0 victory over Newcastle United.
Saha Everton
Despite his good form he was not given an extended contract and signed for Sunderland. But his time there was less successful as he failed to score in 14 appearances and left for Lazio on the 6th February 2013 and after six league games for them he announced his retirement.

The final word can go to Sir Alex Ferguson. “Louis is a young and exciting talent and has made incredible progress. We have got a young and gifted centre forward. To have finally secured this deal is fantastic and great boost to the club.”

4th August – Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia was the first Ecuadorean to win the Premier League and he could play a crucial role once again at Old Trafford next season.

If new manager Louis Van Gaal plays a 3-5-2 formation then this could suit Valencia perfectly as he would be able to play as one of the wing backs and be very effective as he has proved he can play both on the right wing and at right back. Although there are doubts over his future it could be a big mistake if Van Gaal does let him go because they have already lost quite a few experienced Premier League players this summer.

Valencia started his career at El Nacional in Ecuador and it wasn’t long before he broke into their first team and was being linked with moves to Europe, in particular Spain. But in his last season at the club he helped them win the 2005 Clausura Tournament and after 11 goals in 83 league games he decided to move to Europe.
Valencia EN
In 2005 he signed for Villarreal but he struggled to break into their first team and only played twice before being loaned out to Recreativo de Huelva and he was an important player for them, helping them to win the second division in Spain and gain promotion to La Liga. Although he only played 12 times he impressed enough to get some interest from other clubs and he joined Wigan Athletic on loan on the 3rd August 2006.

It did not take long to settle in England and he scored his first goal in an emphatic 4-0 win over Manchester City. However, he picked up an injury soon afterwards and was ruled out for three months before returning in January against Everton. Although he only got one goal and one assist his performances were good enough to convince the club to extend his loan deal and then make it permanent in January 2008. He would go onto make 88 appearances for Wigan but was continually linked with moves away and manager Steve Bruce confirmed that he turned down the chance to join Real Madrid.
Valencia WA
Eventually he did leave Wigan and joined Manchester United for a fee in the region of £16 million and in his first season he impressed the fans with his pace and crossing ability. His greatest moment came in the final of the League Cup when he set up the winning goal against Aston Villa for Wayne Rooney. In all competitions he played 49 times and scored seven goals.

His next season was very stop start because of injuries but he did still play enough games to pick up a Premier League winners medal and started in the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona which led to him signing a new contract with the club. During the 2011-12 season he proved his versatility by playing a lot of games at right back and he looked very threatening from this position and at the end of the year he was awarded the Fans and Players’ Player of the Year awards.
Valencia MU
After his fine form he was awarded the famous number seven shirt however this only lasted a season before returning to the number 25 and after signing a new three year deal in the summer he will want to get back to his best form under Van Gaal.

The final word can go to Sir Alex Ferguson. “Antonio is a player we have admired for some time now, having spent the last two years in the Premier League with Wigan. I am sure his pace and ability will make a significant contribution to the team.”

25th April – David Moyes

He may not have been able to celebrate a single birthday as manager of Manchester United but that doesn’t mean he has had a bad career and will surely be successful once again.

David Moyes turns 51 today and his dream of managing one of the biggest clubs in the world turned into a nightmare pretty quickly. But even getting this far is an achievement for someone that started his playing career at Icelandic club IBV Vestmannaeyjar. He spent half a season in their youth team before transferring to Celtic where he won the title after playing 24 games.
Moyes Celtic
Moyes made over 550 club appearances for many clubs including Cambridge United, Bristol City, Shrewsbury Town, Dunfermline Athletic, Hamilton Academical and finally Preston North End.

After retiring he became a coach at Preston but in January 1998 after Gary Peters was sacked and the club were struggling in Division Two, Moyes was given the task of keeping the club in the league. He completely turned the club around by keeping them in the league and then getting to the playoffs the next season. However they were defeated by Gillingham in the semi finals. But this did not stop Moyes as he won the title the next season but even more remarkably in their first season in Division One they reached the playoffs but lost to Bolton Wanderers 3-0 in the final. After the season ended he signed a new five year contract with their Chief Executive Tony Scholes saying: “We believe David is the best young manager in the game. He is the man to push Preston into the Premier League.” He had a phenomenal record at the club winning 113 of his 243 matches in charge, only losing 63.

Unfortunately for Preston Moyes left the club in March 2002 to take over at Everton. He could not have got off to a better start with David Unsworth scoring 30 seconds into his first match in charge, they went on to win the game 2-1. He guided them to safety and then the next season he won the LMA Manager of the Year after leading them to a 7th place finish. It looked as though the good times were coming back but the 2003-04 season was not so easy as they struggled and finished the season with their lowest points tally and finished just above the relegation zone in 17th.
Moyes Everton
After having a difficult summer in which Wayne Rooney was sold to Manchester United his side were expected to struggle but the signing of midfielder Tim Cahill proved a stroke of genius from Moyes as they finished the season in fourth place and qualified for the Champions League.

The rest of his time at Everton was largely successful although he could not win a trophy it will still be seen as one of the best times in recent history. He would not have left to take over at many other clubs but to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor at Old Trafford was just too good to turn down. Ferguson said: “When we discussed the candidates that we felt had the right attributes we unanimously agreed on David Moyes.”
Moyes Man United
Moyes broke a lot of records while in charge at Old Trafford unfortunately for him and everyone involved with the club they were all negative ones and the club will most likely not qualify for Europe. He was not given the chance to turn it around and was sacked. The last word can go to Gary Neville who was disappointed with the team’s performances this season but did not understand why Moyes was not given more time. “The idea of giving people three or four or six year contracts and then getting rid of them after 10 months is something that is foreign to me.”