Club Legends #9 – Andrew Cole

We asked you to vote for who wanted to be the next feature in our Club Legends series, #9 in the series and you voted for Andrew Cole. Andrew or Andy Cole is Manchester United’s seventeenth top goalscorer of all time with 121 goals in 275 appearances for the Red Devils. Meaning he scored a goal in just over every two games throughout his Manchester United career.

Cole+FergieCole joined United from Newcastle United on the 10th January 1995 for a deal worth £7million, £6million in cash plus £1million rated Keith Gillespie going to Newcastle as part of the deal. A record British transfer at the time. Despite Cole’s impressive goalscoring record for Newcastle, where he had scored 68 goals in 74 games this was seen as a shock transfer by many.

Shocked that United had gone for Cole, when they were being heavily linked with Nottingham Forest’s Stan Collymore and shock that Kevin Keegan allowed his star striker to leave.

Despite only joining United midway through the 1994/95 season Cole managed to score 12 goals in 18 games. He made his debut for United on 22nd January 1995, his first goal came against Aston Villa in 1-0 victory on 4th February 1995 and scored 5 goals in the 9-0 humiliation of Ipswich Town at Old Trafford on 4th March 1995. This still remains a record victory for any team in Premier League history and the most goals scored by one player in a Premier League fixture. Cole was unable to help United win the League in his first season as they lost out to Blackburn Rovers in the title race on the final day of the season.

Cole’s first full season at United saw Cole and United winning both the Premier League and the Fa Cup, meaning United became the first English side to win the Double twice. Cole struggled to find his best form in the 1995/96 season as he only managed to find the new 11 times in the Premier League and 14 times in all competitions.

He did though score some critical goals for United towards the end of the season as United chased down Cole’s old team mates at St James Park and eventually overtook them to the Premier League title, Newcastle at one point had been 12 points clear of United at the top of the Premier League but they faltered under the pressure chasing United put on them. Cole scored the second goal as United defeated Middlesbrough 3-0 at The Riverside Stadium as they sealed the title on the last day of the season, Cole was then part of the United team that beat Liverpool 1-0 in the Fa Cup Final to complete the Double.

Andy Cole
Cole and his team-mates celebrate winning the Premier League title

At the beginning of the 1996/97 season Cole faced a fight to stay at Manchester United, Cole was offered to Blackburn Rovers in a £12million part-exchange deal for Alan Shearer. The offer was turned down by Blackburn and was a clear indication to Cole that United and Alex Ferguson were looking for a new striker. Despite this Cole was handed the No.9 shirt (having previously been No.17 since his arrival at Old Trafford).

The arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a double broken leg suffered in a malicious challenge from Neil Ruddock in a reserve game against Liverpool, restricted Cole’s first team appearances in the early part of the season. Cole recovered from the injury by December, he made 20 appearances in the 1996/97 season (10 from the substitute’s bench). Scoring some crucial goals towards the end of the season including a goal in a 3-1 win at Anfield that sealed fourth title in five years for Manchester United.

At the start of the 1997/98 season, Cole emerged as United’s No.1 striker following the retirement of Eric Cantona. Cole enjoyed his best season in terms of goals as he bagged 25 goals in all competitions. Cole developed a strong relationship on the pitch with new signing Teddy Sheringham. United finished the season trophyless, though Cole did enjoy personal success as he scored his first hat-trick in the Champions League against Feyenoord and finished runner-up in the PFA Player of the Year vote, losing out to Arsenal’s Dennis Bergkamp.

Cole and Yorke formed a prolific partnership in the 98/99 season
Cole and Yorke formed a prolific partnership in the 98/99 season

At the start of the 1998/99 season, Cole faced competition for his place in the team from new signing Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Cole formed an almost telepathic understanding with Yorke, between them Cole and Yorke contributed 53 goals to United’s season and were rated as the most feared partnership in European football.

Cole contributed 24 goals himself as he played an instrumental role as United completed the treble of Premier League, Fa Cup and Champions League. Cole scored the winning goal on the final day of the season against Tottenham as United completed the first part of the unique treble.

Cole once again finished as United’s top scorer in the 1999/2000 season, scoring 22 goals in 45 appearances in all competitions as United once again won the Premier League title. He scored his 100th goal for the club in 2-2 draw against Wimbledon.

Another title followed for United and Cole in the 2000/01 season, though Cole’s appearances were restricted by injury, he still manage to score 13 goals in 31 games. The 2001/02 would be Cole’s last at Old Trafford, with competition for places restricting Cole to a super-sub role as new signing Ruud Van Nistelrooy formed a formidable partnership with Solskjaer. Cole did manage to score 5 goals though before being sold to Blackburn Rovers on December 29th 2001 for £8million.

During his time at Old Trafford won five Premier League Titles 1995/96, 1996/97, 1998/99, 1999/2000 and 2000/01. He helped United win two Fa Cups 195/96 and 1998/99. Winning the Champions League in 1998/99. He voted onto the PFA team of the year in 1999/2000.

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About Andrew Hyslop 398 Articles
Creator of Sir Alex Ferguson Way and writer of football books

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