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Manchester United still waiting for summer signings to hit the high notes

Football News | Article posted on March 8th, 2015

After 28 games of Manchester United’s Premier League campaign, Louis van Gaal may have hoped last summer’s £150m-plus splurge on Radamel Falcao, Ángel Di María, Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Daley Blind would have reaped a richer dividend.
To stand 10 points behind the leaders, Chelsea, and have Champions League qualification dangling precariously, with Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton all no more than four points behind, was not in the masterplan when Van Gaal sanctioned the spending. He would, though, have had FA Cup ambitions in mind and a semi-final place will be secured if United beat Arsenal on Monday night.
Since the six can be broadly divided into galácticos (Di María and Falcao), solid performers (Blind and Rojo), and future prospects (Shaw and Herrera), the signings appeared a shrewd blend.
They would be a cocktail of superstar performers, reliability and youth injected into a United squad finally receiving the major surgery that had been required for the previous two seasons, at least. All – apart from Herrera – were senior internationals, so the demand that Van Gaal deliver a Champions League berth appeared a shoo-in. Yet Blind aside, all have struggled for a variety of reasons: form, injury, the manager’s erratic selection policy and adjustment to life at a club of United’s profile. In the statistical roll call of all Premier League signings made this season, the respective worth of each of the sextet can be found.
In Falcao’s 17 appearances he has scored four times at 251.25 minutes per strike. This places the Colombian seventh in a list headed by Chelsea’s Diego Costa – 21 games, 17 goals at 104.76 each – with Diafra Sakho (West Ham), Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal), Loïc Rémy (Chelsea), Leonardo Ulloa (Leicester City) and Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City) all above him. The 29-year-old, who cost a total of £16m for his season-long loan, is a shadow of the fearsome predator who crashed a hat-trick past Chelsea for Atlético Madrid in the 2012 Uefa Super Cup final. In 2013 he joined Monaco and the serious knee injury he suffered in January 2014 while playing in a French Cup match appears to have left him a vital fraction slower.
In the successful pass chart, which is topped by Chelsea’s Cesc Fèbregas (1,701 in 2051 minutes from 24 games), Di María’s 581 in 1,481 from 20 appearances rank him 17th. Yet as the Argentinian’s eight assists are second only to Fàbregas’s mark of 15, this illustrates the uneven campaign of a 27-year-old who has shown flashes of why he cost a British record £59.7m and was a prime factor in Real Madrid’s La Décima European Cup triumph last May. The black mark against Di María is that he can

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