Van Gaal snaps up Falcao for United
This is why Manchester United threw all their fragile eggs into Louis van Gaal's basket.
His old friends in Holland call him "The King", his children call him "sir" and he proudly considers himself dominant and arrogant.
But the Red Devils manager lived up to his own billing last night. The ego didn't land on the transfer market. He obliterated it. When the smoke cleared, van Gaal emerged from the deadline-day madness clutching one of the world's finest strikers in Radamel Falcao.
He might even have snared a new creative midfielder too, someone very much in the mould of Paul Scholes, someone who looks remarkably like Wayne Rooney.
In signing Falcao, van Gaal has bought United a two-for-one special.
Nitpickers will argue that an exorbitant, single-season loan signing smacks of desperation, a clear indication of how far the former monarchs of Manchester have fallen, but United followers will be a thousand miles from caring.
Van Gaal has pulled off the most dramatic, unexpected signing of the transfer window.
In a sport saturated by hype, hyperbole and overkill, Falcao is a genuine Hollywood footballer; dipped in gold and destined to dazzle in the Premier League.
His 11 goals in 20 appearances for Monaco barely hint at his depth of talent, a reminder that statistics are black and white, whereas Falcao plays in glorious technicolour.
Lionel Messi wanted to play with him. Pep Guardiola admires him. Defenders are terrified of him.
Apart from his insatiable hunger for a dollar, Falcao is a No. 9 with no obvious weaknesses. He's the Robocop of strikers, genetically assembled to be the perfect poacher.
Athletic, muscular, deceptively quick but seemingly languid in possession, Falcao can lead the line or carve a trench into the penalty box from either flank with either foot.
He is not cursed with a weaker foot and is blessed with an aerial ability beyond most of his peers.
If a striker was manufactured in a laboratory, engineered by geneticists in white coats and programmed to score consistently from every height, angle and distance, he might look something like the long-haired Colombian.
Falcao's form, fame and pedigree made him an attractive proposition for van Gaal, the United manager snatching the forward from under the noses of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Arsenal simply because he can.
It's unlikely that Falcao would've bothered to return David Moyes' phone calls.
Money was obviously the Colombian's overriding concern, but van Gaal's global stature certainly helped.
The manager's name got Falcao's attention. His template probably got the striker's signature.
United are suddenly blessed with a fantastic four in attack (or five if one includes Juan Mata, but there is a growing suspicion that van Gaal may not).
Angel di Maria, Robin van Persie, Rooney and Falcao are an experienced quartet expected to charm at the Theatre of Dreams, but four into three doesn't go.
Van Gaal's much derided and destabilizing, 3-4-1-2 should now be chalked up as a bold, but failed, experiment and ditched.
Withdrawing Rooney, however, offers the promise of a renaissance for the striker and a resurrection for his struggling club.
Like his former England colleagues Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, Rooney's career going forward always seems to be behind him. His future is over his shoulder.
In the hole, or even as a link man who cuts inside and switches flanks, Rooney possesses the creative dynamism that has eluded Mata since his move to Old Trafford.
The Englishman has the passing range, the improvisational invention and enough pace to support a front three of di Maria, van Persie and Falcao.
His bullish style and battered body always suggested his twilight years would be spent outside the penalty box: the ticking clock pulling Rooney towards the centre circle.
Van Gaal's late, unexpected signing of Falcao might have hastened the transition.
Either way, United are suddenly blessed with an embarrassment of riches in attack.
It's just unfortunate really that their defence remains a bit of an embarrassment.
TNP GRAPHIC: TEOH YI CHIE
How Falcao could fit
With Louis van Gaal snatching one of the world's best strikers, NEIL HUMPHREYS takes a guess at Manchester United's starting 11. And the 3-4-1-2 will have to give way to the 4-3-3 the coach often used with Holland if he's going to get the best out of this bunch.
- DAVID DE GEA
Quite possibly the only United player who's place in the starting line-up - and his actual position - is guaranteed.
- RAFAEL DA SILVA
When he returns from his groin injury, the Brazilian's pace should win over his manager.
- PHIL JONES
Unless Tyler Blackett improves quickly, Jones is likely to be the only survivor from the current defence (but his long-term future is by no means assured).
- MARCOS ROJO
Once his work visa issues are settled, the Argentine centre back slots straight into the dodgy defence.
- LUKE SHAW
The 19-year-old should make the left-back position his own this season.
- ANDER HERRERA
According to media reports, the Spaniard has settled quickly in Manchester, finding a home and enjoying the city. Once he finds his feet, he will enjoy his football.
- DALEY BLIND
Like Herrera, the Dutchman must work his socks off as a defensive midfielder to accommodate Rooney's free role.
- WAYNE ROONEY
Playing at the head of a midfield trio, Rooney will finally utilise his underrated passing ability and justify his tendency to drop deeper to collect possession. His ageing body would earn a respite from the penalty-box pounding.
- ANGEL DI MARIA
On the left side of a front three, his crossing range is matched by his ability to cut inside and link with the strikers. A natural-born winger.
- ROBIN VAN PERSIE
Based on form and fitness, his role as a No. 9 could be at risk from Falcao's arrival. If the goals dry up, he could be shunted into a wider position.
- RADAMEL FALCAO
It's a toss-up between the Colombian and the Dutchman who gets to go down the middle. But Falcao can find space anywhere around the box and will swop positions with RVP to bend opposing defences out of shape.
- JUAN MATA
Can swop with Rooney if United need a more direct approach or when van Persie's fitness fails to hold.