Fal­cao de­te­ri­o­rat­ing

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Bren­don Netto

CAPE TOWN — Pierre Spies ( who is set to join Jake White at Mont­pel­lier in France, says he was deemed sur­plus to re­quire­ments at the Bulls.

The Spring­bok No 8 will first head to Ja­pan for a short stint there, be­fore join­ing up with the for­mer Spring­bok coach at Mont­pel­lier in Fe­bru­ary next year.

Spies last week told French news­pa­per Midi Olympique that the Bulls didn’t want him any­more.

“The Bulls told me that they weren’t go­ing to keep me,” Spies was quoted as say­ing.

“That’s when Jake White called me. Hav­ing come across him with the Spring­boks, I know he’s world rugby’s best leader. I said yes im­me­di­ately.”

Ac­cord­ing to Netwerk24, there were ru­mours that the Bulls wanted to get rid of Spies be­cause he was earn­ing a huge salary af­ter 11 years at the union.

Spies, 30, has been capped 53 times by the Spring­boks. — Sport24 LON­DON — The 2012 Euro­pean Su­per Cup fi­nal was ef­fec­tively over within the first half it­self.

The Europa League win­ners had not only over­come the more il­lus­tri­ous Cham­pi­ons League vic­tors, they ripped them apart, limb by limb. The dis­mem­ber­ment was al­most ex­clu­sively car­ried out by a sin­gle fe­ro­cious beast, El Tigre they called him.

It was then that the foot­balling world saw the very best of Radamel Fal­cao. He com­pleted an ex­quis­ite first-half hat-trick to bring Chelsea to their knees and his per­for­mance in the 4-1 tri­umph epit­o­mized a pe­riod dur­ing which he was at the peak of his pow­ers. There were ru­mours that the Premier League out­fit were close to sign­ing him then and on pa­per, it seemed like a per­fect fit.

How­ever, their ef­forts to land the Colom­bian never came to fruition but three years on, a move to Stam­ford Bridge ap­pears to be on the cards for Fal­cao. Un­for­tu­nately, they won’t be ac­quir­ing the ser­vices of the striker from two years ago when he was the world’s fore­most front­man, dar­ing to chal­lenge the phe­nom­e­nal scor­ing records of the Cris­tiano Ron­aldo-lionel Messi du­op­oly.

Now, as much as we’ve wished it, we haven’t seen that Fal­cao for a long time and it’s be­come ap­par­ent now that we per­haps never will again.

Af­ter es­tab­lish­ing him­self as a jug­ger­naut in Euro­pean football with pro­lific terms at FC Porto and Atletico Madrid, Fal­cao moved to AS Monaco in the sum­mer of 2013 for a re­ported fee of €60 mil­lion.

He got off to a mod­est but re­spect­ful start in his new sur­round­ings, scor­ing 11 times in 19 ap­pear­ances dur­ing the first half of the sea­son. How­ever, a se­ri­ous knee in­jury not only ruled him out of the rest of the cam­paign but also the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Af­ter months of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, Fal­cao was deemed fit for the new sea­son and scored twice in Monaco’s open­ing three fix­tures in spite of be­ing off the pace. A shock loan move to Manch­ester United was scru­ti­nized and con­sid­ered a huge gam­ble, and it turned out to be a dis­ap­point­ing one.

Fal­cao looked like a shadow of him­self at Old Traf­ford, scor­ing just once in his first eight games for the Manch­ester out­fit. He strug­gled for fit­ness dur­ing the first cou­ple of months of the sea­son but de­spite be­ing free of all ail­ments and af­forded plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for the rest of the cam­paign, he failed to come to life.

Even af­ter a full re­cov­ery, he wasn’t able to pro­duce a per­for­mance that at the very least re­sem­bled the spec­tac­u­lar striker he was. One could for­give him for be­ing rusty or strug­gling to re­gain his form in front of goal. How­ever, his short­com­ings were far more se­ri­ous than that. His touch had com­pletely more of­ten. How­ever, he snatched at the cou­ple of de­cent chances that came his way and was largely over­shad­owed by his team-mates.

In the fi­nal group game against Peru, Fal­cao fi­nally man­aged to register a shot on tar­get when Pe­dro Gallese de­nied him. He headed over a de­cent op­por­tu­nity in the sec­ond half too but failed to make a real im­pact again and was re­placed in the 66th minute.

What Fal­cao does have go­ing for him though is that the two men - or the two ‘Joses’ - who could hold the fate of his ca­reer in their hands are both in his cor­ner. Colom­bia coach Jose Pek­er­man re­cently backed his skip­per to be “a suc­cess’ at Chelsea along with com­pa­triot Juan Cuadrado. Mean­while, Jose Mour­inho is clearly a fan of Fal­cao’s and is even peeved at the gen­eral im­pres­sion of him in Eng­land. “It hurts me that peo­ple in Eng­land be­lieve that Fal­cao is the one seen at Manch­ester United. He is a player who I know, who I have fol­lowed since Atletico Madrid, and if I can help Fal­cao to reach his level, I will do it,” the Chelsea boss vowed.

Mour­inho is a top tac­ti­cian and an ex­cel­lent man man­ager. He may well help Fal­cao step up but it’s still highly un­likely, even with his abil­i­ties, that he’d be able to re­store the striker to his for­mer glory. Mean­while, the cau­tion­ary tale of sign­ing a high-pro­file striker who can never quite re­cover from a knee in­jury is one that Chelsea are all too fa­mil­iar with.

An­driy Shevchenko suf­fered a bad knee in­jury prior to the 2006 World Cup, af­ter which he signed for the Blues for a record £30.8 mil­lion. Fer­nando Tor­res un­der­went two ma­jor knee oper­a­tions in the pre­ced­ing 12 months of his £50 mil­lion move to Chelsea, once again set­ting the bar in the trans­fer mar­ket. How­ever, the Spa­niard’s prob­lems were also at­trib­uted to a se­ries of ham­string prob­lems be­fore the oper­a­tions which saw him lose his great­est as­set – ac­cel­er­a­tion.

Fal­cao’s sit­u­a­tion at present bears an un­canny re­sem­blance to that of his il­lus­tri­ous pre­de­ces­sors ex­cept for the fact that he would be a less ex­pen­sive gam­ble, ar­riv­ing with­out a hefty trans­fer fee. Chelsea would have to shell out around £14 mil­lion pounds for his ex­trav­a­gant wages but that may prove to be an ac­cept­able ex­pense if it gains favour with his in­flu­en­tial agent, Jorge Men­des for fu­ture trans­ac­tions.

El Tigre was an ex­hil­a­rat­ing player to watch in his prime but sadly, he has lost his fe­roc­ity, tenac­ity and most no­tably, his killer in­stinct. His style it­self is in con­trast to what it was in the past. He used to go straight for the jugu­lar but now he am­bles about, hop­ing to feed off scraps. It’s time to ac­cept that Fal­cao is no longer the an­i­mal, the jun­gle cat that he was. His prowl has been re­placed by an awk­ward scurry and he be­comes more do­mes­ti­cated with ev­ery pass­ing day. — www.

RADAMEL Fal­cao has been dis­ap­point­ing in Colom­bia colours at the on­go­ing COPA Amer­ica.

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