Rooney backs United title bid
MANCHESTER — Manchester United have decided not to keep Radamel Falcao ( pictured) following the end of his seasonlong loan from Monaco.
The Colombian, who missed Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Hull because of injury, scored just four goals in 29 matches.
United did not take up a reported £43.2m option to buy the 29-year-old, who failed to net in his last 13 games.
“Falcao is a top professional and a good human being. I would like to wish him well for the future,” Van Gaal told the club’s website.
The former Porto and Atletico Madrid striker’s last goal came against Leicester on 31 January. The South American, who missed the 2014 World Cup after suffering a serious knee injury in January last year, made a point of waving to the United fans when he was substituted in the 1-1 draw with Arsenal on 17 May, in what proved to be his last appearance. It is the first decision in what is expected to be a busy summer for Van Gaal, who will look to reshape a squad he has consistently said is not balanced.
And while the 63-year-old is ready to go on an extended holiday to Portugal, after spending most of last summer guiding the Netherlands to third place at the World Cup, he intends to remain in touch with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
“I am the manager,” he said. “I have to decide which players are to go and which have to come. That is a process. It is not so easy. It is waiting for clubs to agree or not.
“It is hard work, but more for Ed Woodward than me. I go on holiday but I will always be in contact.”
There was no update on the future of goalkeeper David de Gea, who missed the Hull game after failing to recover from a hamstring injury.
“He has to say something, not I,” said Van Gaal when asked about the Spaniard. — MANCHESTER — Wayne Rooney insists Manchester United will mount a serious title challenge next season.
A difficult first season of the Louis van Gaal era ended with a somewhat underwhelming 0-0 draw at Hull on Sunday.
Despite a disappointing run of one win in their final six games, United achieved their aim of Champions League qualification - but Rooney is hungry for so much more.
The United skipper is used to challenging for titles and that is what he wants to be doing next season.
Van Gaal’s team finished 17 points behind this year’s winners Chelsea, but Rooney insists the gap between the two teams is capable of being bridged, so long as the club make the right moves in the transfer market.
“I believe we are (close),” the United captain told Sky Sports.
“You take the first 10 games and I think we had 13 points.
“When you consider from after that amount of games to where we’ve finished, we’ve probably got as many points after that as anyone else.
“I think we’re close, there’s no doubt about it. You can see in our performances, we’re outplaying teams, dominating possession, and it’s just that final thing of taking our chances.
“In the (defeat at) Chelsea, if I had scored that chance with my left foot then it could have been a completely different game and might have put them under a bit of pressure - it might have been a lot closer than it’s finished.
“As a group of players, myself and the manager - we all believe we’re close and I’m sure with a player or two in the summer we’ll have a good chance of going for the title.”
A quarter-final exit to Arsenal in the FA Cup - the one trophy he is yet to win - remains a sore point for Rooney.
But given the turbulent times at Old Trafford over the last two years, Rooney is reasonably satisfied with the season as a whole.
“There was a change of manager, coaches, and a lot of new players coming in - so realistically we knew it was going to be a tough ask for us to go and win the Premier League,” the striker added.
“The least we wanted was a top-four finish because, after last season, for this football club it would’ve been a disaster if we didn’t make the top four.
“It would have been nice to win some silverware - that’s why the Arsenal defeat in the cup was so disappointing - but in terms of the Premier League the most vital thing for us was getting in the top four.”
Ph i l Jones thinks United must start well next season if they are to challenge.
As Rooney pointed out, United had 13 points after their opening 10 matches. That cannot happen next year, Jones says.
“We need to start well next season, for definite,” the defender said.
“We will go away and have a rest, recuperate, think about the season and how we have done, what we can improve on and we will come back ready to go again next season.
“If we could have picked up three points instead of one in places like Sunderland and Burnley, then you give yourself a better chance.
“But that is the way the season has gone and we are reasonably satisfied.”
Van Gaal heads to the Algarve this week for a much-needed break.
He has already started planning for next season. He held meetings with the players he wants out of the club over the weekend.
One of them was Radamel Falcao, who has been told he can return to Monaco after scoring just four goals during his loan spell at Old Trafford.
United are desperate to keep David de Gea away from Real Madrid, but should he leave, Victor Valdes did his chances of replacing his compatriot no harm on Sunday.
“He was terrific,” Jones added. “He pulled off some wonderful saves. He is a great goalkeeper. He has very good English and he is good at communicating.” Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho told Chelsea supporters to pencil a date in their diary for another victory parade next season after Monday’s open-top bus procession through west London.
The Blues lifted the Premier League trophy following Sunday’s 3-1 win over Sunderland and won the Capital One Cup in March for Mourinho’s first trophies of his second spell at the club.
Now the 52-year-old self-proclaimed Special One has told Blues fans to expect another celebration next May.
Mourinho said over the public address system: “Thank you for everything, for all your support.
“Book another place for the parade next season. I hope we can give you that.”
Mourinho then attempted to sing a Chelsea anthem, but apparently did not know the words. “Blue is the colour, la, la, la, la,” he sang. The departing Didier Drogba soaked up the acclaim on the first of three buses which took Chelsea players staff and owner Roman Abramovich from Stamford Bridge along Fulham Broadway and King’s Road. The European Youth League and FA Youth Cup-winning squad were also present.
The parade, which took place in front of an estimated 70,000 people, many of whom threw celery as part of a strange Chelsea tradition, paused at Eel Brook Common before returning to Stamford Bridge.
Among the songs was one led by John Obi Mikel about Petr Cech, who has one year remaining on his contract but has been linked with a move after being displaced after 10 years as first-choice goalkeeper.
“Petr Cech we want you to stay,” sang Mikel.
Cech did not touch on his future when he addressed the fans.
“We are all blue so we are all the same,” he said.
With Drogba going and Cech possibly leaving, captain John Terry could be the last survivor of the 2004/05 squad which delivered Chelsea’s first title in 50 years.
Terry, who played every Premier League minute this season, has signed a new contract and wishes to stay on for some time, but knows the time will come when he must say goodbye, too.
The 34-year-old said: “It’s my best season (and) I’m delighted to still be here.
“I’m going to be sad to go, but one day it will come to an end.”
Manchester United skipper Wayne rooney