Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has sparked become public enemey number one in Colombia for his treatment of Radamel Falcao, earning the Dutch coach the moniker “Van Maal” (Mr Evil).
Falcao has been a fringe player at Old Trafford since joining United from Monaco last August in a loan deal.
Asked whether United would be interested in signing the striker on a permanent basis, an unconvinced Van Gaal said last month that Falcao had to prove himself regardless of his price tag. A meagre return of four goals in 14 Premier League matches suggests the coach is right to be cautious.
This has not gone down well in Falcao’s homeland where fans and even former players have reacted with dismay.
Retired Colombian star Faustino Asprilla accused the United manager of bias against South American players.
“Riquelme, Rivaldo and now @FALCAO. #VanMaal definitely has something against South Americans. @ManUtd need to act!!”
The former Colombia striker, who – for reasons best known to himself – now makes a living by producing his own brand condoms, wrote on Twitter, recalling van Gaal’s treatment of Argentina’s Juan Roman Riquelme and Brazil’s Rivaldo when he was in charge of Barcelona.
Journalists have also got in on the act, criticising van Gaal for frequently omitting striker from his starting line-up.
“Anyone with blood in their veins knows benching Falcao is ridiculous. An eternal legend, eternal hate for Van Gaal,” tweeted sports photographer Andres Romero Torres.
Colombian TV star Lincoln Palomeque (an actor, apparently) tweeted after Falcao scored in United’s 3-1 win over Leicester on January 31.
“The worst thing @FALCAO could do is score a goal because next match Van Gaal will leave him on the bench. How did he fall into the hands of this bitter man!” he asked.
Because no one else was prepared to pay him £300,000 a week?