In a recent interview with ESPNFC, Jose Mourinho said he was “scared” when Radamel Falcao joined Manchester United on loan last season. The Chelsea boss professed himself to be a longtime admirer of the Colombian striker, who he called a “predator in the box.” Falcao was indeed prolific in his time with Porto in the Portuguese Liga and later at Atletico Madrid, where he established himself as one of the finest strikers in the world.
He’s struggled, though, ever since tearing his cruciate ligament in a French Cup match with Monaco in early 2014. His season-long loan to Man United yielded a paltry four goals in 26 Premier League appearances, leading many to wonder if the injury to his ACL had brought about an early demise.
But Mourinho has no such concerns.
“We had a very exhaustive analysis of his condition before we made a decision. Our doctor had real work to investigate all of that. He is not, for sure, a physical problem. So if it’s not physical we can make him score goals again.”
No one who self-proclaims himself the “Special One” is likely to be short on confidence. And Mourinho indeed seems confident that he can get Falcao back to his best. At 29, the former Atleti man should be reaching his peak and if Mourinho can indeed get him firing again, he may find himself with two of the most dangerous strikers in Europe on his squad in Falcao and Diego Costa.
Mourinho’s decision to gamble on a season-long loan of Falcao has raised eyebrows. But Jose Mourinho is nothing if not one of the most calculating managers in world football; for him to roll the dice on Falcao, there has to be some reasoning behind it. Much of that reasoning likely stems from a Premier League clash between Chelsea and Manchester United that took place in April at Stamford Bridge.
In that match, Falcao made no less than 60 high-intensity sprints against Chelsea. Blues defender Gary Cahill recalls trying to mark the Colombian as having been something of a nightmare in that game, telling Sky Sports:
He was always pulling you left to right, coming short and running behind. Even when he wasn’t getting a lot of the ball, off the ball I was having to do a lot of running, chasing him and he was moving me around every two minutes. He made that game tough and there was a lot of movement people didn’t see because the ball was elsewhere.
But Falcao’s performance against Chelsea last April was atypical of his efforts at United last season. It still remains to be seen whether he can ever again reach the goal-scoring heights he hit during his two seasons at Atletico Madrid, although if there’s a manager in the game capable of motivating players to overcome mental blocks, it’s surely Jose Mourinho. Signing Falcao was a gamble, but if it pays off, the Special One will have pulled off one of the transfer coup of the summer.