“What we do know is that he will play in one of the very best clubs in the world next season, whether that is Manchester United or not.” Van Gaal insists he has no option but to take a hard line stance with the forward, who has suffered from injury problems since his loan move from Monaco. “If I am not like that, maybe he has less motivation,” Van Gaal said. “I have to be like that. It is difficult for the outside world (to understand that).” Van Gaal was clearly irked by a question about how Falcao had responded to being omitted from the squad. “That is not for you, that is not for the media,” Van Gaal said at his weekly press conference. “That is for the player and his manager. I’m sorry.” When asked whether Falcao’s morale was okay, the Dutchman said bluntly: “I think so.” When quizzed on whether Falcao would feature against QPR on Saturday, Van Gaal said: “You have to wait and see, because when I say that a part of my line-up is known I make it easy for my opponent and I don’t want to make it easy.” Falcao’s chances of starting at Loftus Road were strengthened when Robin van Persie hobbled off in the second half of the loss to Saints with an ankle injury. Van Gaal refused to reveal how long Van Persie will be out for, but it seems highly unlikely he will play on Saturday. “I have read in the papers in the Netherlands that he is injured so we shall see,” Van Gaal said. Van Gaal was a little bit more forthcoming when questioned about the possibility of signing players in the January transfer window. United have been linked with moves for Kevin Strootman, Seamus Coleman and Nathaniel Clyne – among others – but according to Van Gaal, there is only a small possibility he will sign anyone this month. “I don’t think that we shall be very active [in the transfer market] as not many players of a certain level are available,” the former Bayern Munich coach said. “When we buy a player he has to be better than the players that are playing now and that is a difficult job.” Press Association United beat a host of top clubs to the loan signing of Falcao on deadline day, but despite his reported wage packet of around £280,000 a week he has scored just three goals in 13 appearances. To the bemusement of many fans, a fully-fit Falcao was left out of the match day squad for last week’s 1-0 defeat against Southampton, with Van Gaal preferring to put 19-year-old James Wilson on the bench instead. Louis van Gaal has told Radamel Falcao he still has to prove his worth at Manchester United even though the club have forked out a considerable amount of money for the striker. Van Gaal was unrepentant on the matter and insists the Colombian must prove he is up to the job if he is to get more game time and if United are to exercise their right to buy the striker for £43.5million. “He has to prove himself, that we have agreed. We have made this deal and everything is clear and it is not the end of the year so he has the chance for that,” the United boss said. “If a player costs £95million or £5,000 it’s not any difference for me. “You have to prove yourself. A player of £95million has to prove himself also.” Van Gaal explained after the defeat that he had room for just one striker on the bench against Saints and opted for Wilson because he was quicker than Falcao. Van Gaal’s move to leave the former Porto striker out of his squad cast fresh doubt on the player’s chances of sealing a permanent transfer to Old Trafford. Earlier this week the player’s agent Jorge Mendes said he had no idea whether his client would remain at the club beyond the end of the season “The truth is, right now we don’t know what will happen,” Mendes said.
Trevor Denton | Daily TrojanThe most common complaint about the NBA in 2018 is that it lacks competition.At the end of the day, the Warriors and Cavs will always find themselves playing each other in the NBA Finals, critics lament. Many NBA critics feel that the 82-game regular season and four-round Playoffs are just window dressings when the conclusion is already set in stone. On the other hand, fans around the country love the NFL for the exact opposite reason. They enjoy the league’s perception of parity, where each team possesses an equal shot at winning a championship, despite its previous season’s record. The four-round, single-elimination Playoff format creates a sense that any team can make a run for first place, much like the New York Giants in 2007 and 2011 (shoutout to my former sports editor Ollie Jung, a die-hard Giants fan).Yet, as the NFL gets ready for its 52nd Super Bowl on Feb. 4, the Football League faces predictability issues similar to the NBA’s. Since 2003, only four different quarterbacks have won the AFC Championship: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco (the obvious outlier). For Brady, 40, this will be his eighth Super Bowl appearance in his 18-year career. He’s had an extended run of greatness that’s been ongoing since my first days of watching sports. Yes, the NFL’s highly touted parity does exist, but only across half of the league. Compared to the AFC Championship, 13 different quarterbacks have won the NFC Championship since 2003. There are some future Hall of Famers in that group, like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. But there are many more Flacco-esque head scratchers like Colin Kaepernick, Rex Grossman and 2018 winner Nick Foles. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will make his eighth career appearance in the Super Bowl. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.For the most part, superior play by a few quarterbacks in the AFC has translated directly to more wins in the Super Bowl. Since Brady’s first appearance, the AFC is 11-6 in the Super Bowl, with another win likely on the way in two weeks. The AFC’s run is not quite on the level of the NBA Western Conference’s utter domination, but it’s pretty damn close. The NFL’s AFC problem starts with a lack of depth at the quarterback position. Aside from bouts with Manning and Roethlisberger, Brady simply hasn’t experienced much competition in getting to the Super Bowl. This year, he defeated Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans and Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the playoffs — two quarterbacks who ranked in the bottom half of the league for completion percentage. A sixth Super Bowl victory in Minnesota would certainly be impressive, but Brady didn’t exactly go through a difficult road to get there. Several recent draft classes looked promising in terms of quarterback talent, but players ended up not panning out as expected. 2012 offered Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III as can’t-miss prospects. Both of their careers have since been derailed by injuries. In 2015, two Heisman Trophy winners in Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were drafted No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. They were supposed to take over as the new group of elite NFL quarterbacks sooner rather than later, yet in 2017, both showed signs of regression. Their teams (the Buccaneers and Titans) finished with a combined record of 13-19. NFL teams need to get better at scouting and developing young quarterbacks in order to make the league more interesting, and prevent older “signal callers” from continuously dominating the league. This year’s quarterback draft class includes several talented prospects including USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma. But only time will tell if any rise up to challenge the Roethlisberger-Brady hierarchy. In the meantime, a 40-year-old quarterback will attempt to win his sixth Super Bowl, with the narrative feeling all too familiar for a league that prides itself on producing the unexpected. This week, I wanted to start doing something a little different with my column. From now on, I’ll be concluding with three things I enjoyed in sports this week: 1. Andrew Wiggins’ game against the Clippers on Monday night. I had the pleasure of attending the Clippers-Timberwolves game at the Staples Center. Both teams were ravaged by injuries. Deandre Jordan, Danilo Gallinari and Patrick Beverly all sat out for the Clippers while Jimmy Butler and Jamal Crawford were unable to play for Minnesota. Still, the two Western conference foes turned in an intense, fun and fast paced game. The T-Wolves ultimately eked out a close victory thanks to a spectacular 40-point performance by Andrew Wiggins. With Karl-Anthony Towns and Butler on the roster, it’s easy to forget about Wiggins. On Monday, he reminded everyone why that’s a very bad idea.2. USC’s four-game winning streakI wrote about the Men’s Basketball team’s current winning streak in more detail on Monday, but it’s worth bringing up again. They have a talented enough roster to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, and now they’re finally playing up to that potential. USC should be a fun team to watch over the last half of conference play. 3. Jake Olson “throwing dimes” When the Trojans were in Dallas for the Cotton Bowl, video surfaced of the team’s blind long-snapper launching drives at TopGolf. Olson showed off more of his incredible athleticism on Monday, as the USC Athletics Instagram page posted video of him of completing perfect passes on the football field. Olson continues to inspire and amaze (also don’t count him out of the 2018 USC quarterback competition). Trevor Denton is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. He is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “T-Time,” runs Wednesdays.