Louis van Gaal insists he did not intend to humiliate Radamel Falcao by dropping him to Manchester United’s under-21 side.
Twenty-four hours after failing to get off the bench for United’s FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal on Monday, the out-of-form United striker turned out for the club’s second string.
Falcao, who has scored just four goals since his deadline-day loan move from Monaco, drew another blank when he played 72 minutes of the under-21 draw against Tottenham on Tuesday night.
The United boss insisted he was not punishing the two-time Ballon d’Or nominee for his poor form by selecting him for the game.
“I have read that it was a humiliation, but I don’t think so,” Van Gaal said.
Falcao, who played alongside Victor Valdes and Rafael in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, failed to score against a youthful Spurs side.
Van Gaal insists the outing for the second team will help Falcao rediscover his form.
“That is one of the aspects that I let my players play in the second squad,” Van Gaal said.
“It is not a humiliation. It is a professional attitude of the management, the club but especially also for the player.
“Not only has Falcao played but also Valdes has played and Rafa has played.
“Every player needs match rhythm. That is why we pay a lot for the players, so I think it’s normal that they play football also for us. That can be also in the second team.”
That said, Van Gaal was not overly impressed with Falcao’s showing for the youth side.
“Falcao did not play his best match in the second team but he has tried his utmost best. I cannot ask more from players.”
More than seven months after signing the player, Van Gaal is still unable to fathom why he has been unable to replicate the stellar form he showed for Colombia, Porto and Atletico Madrid.
“You never can know that,” Van Gaal said when asked why things had not worked out for the 29-year-old, whom United have an option to buy for €60 million at the end of the season.
“We are looking for the solution for him but you can never know that.
“You can give fantastic performances in another country but not in the country that you are present for.
“That is not the first example and it will not be the last example. A lot of players need more time to adapt to the new situation, new culture, higher rhythm of the English game and to a lot of aspects.”
Falcao has started the last two games on the bench and Van Gaal does not appear to be in any kind of rush to recall the striker.
“In a club like Manchester United it is more difficult than in a minor club because here he has his competitors,” Van Gaal added.
“Now Wayne (Rooney) is playing there and Wayne is scoring so you always have to compare players with each other but you need also luck.
“He is doing his utmost best and shows a professional attitude, not only Falcao but all the other players, but you cannot always win.”
Van Gaal won a trophy in his first season at Ajax, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, but the chances of him doing so at United are remote.
The 2-1 defeat to Arsenal knocked United out of the FA Cup on Monday and in the league, Van Gaal’s men are 10 points behind Chelsea, who have a match in hand. United are fourth in the standings, just one point ahead of Liverpool, with 10 matches left.
Van Gaal is sure his team’s confidence has not been affected by the cup exit to the Gunners.
“I have the same confidence as before,” said Van Gaal, who has fixtures against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool after Saturday’s home game against Tottenham.
“We were very disappointed at the last game because the players had the feeling that we lost (because of) ourselves and not (because of) the opponent.
“But I am very pleased with the reaction from the players this week and I hope we can show that against Tottenham because it is the first of 10 matches we have to play in the rat race.”
Angel di Maria's dismissal against Arsenal means he is suspended for the Spurs game and so is Jonny Evans, who is two matches into a six-game ban for spitting.
Robin van Persie is absent with an ankle injury and defender Marcos Rojo is a doubt with a groin problem.
“Rojo is a little bit injured and you have to take care of the health of players,” Van Gaal said.
“He has a minor problem. Maybe I take him out of the game against Tottenham but I have to decide.”