Manchester United Idols: Andy Cole – a true bargain of the Premier League era; 275 appearances, 121 goals, 44 assists

On Tuesday 10 January 1995, Manchester United signed Andy Cole from Newcastle United in a deal worth £7 million which included Keith Gillespie, worth £1 million heading in the other direction. For £6 million cash, Cole was going to be an absolute belter for United. He made his debut 12 days after signing for the club in a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford over Blackburn Rovers – the eventual winners of the Premier League that season by one point – with Eric Cantona scoring an 80th minute winner. Cole’s first goal for United came in a 1-0 victory over Aston Vila at Old Trafford on the 4 February 1996, scoring the only goal of the match in the 17th minute.

In his first season for United, despite coming half way through the season, Cole made 18 appearances, not playing in any other competition that season as he was cup-tied in the FA Cup, United were already out of the League Cup and the UEFA Champions League – finishing third in their group. In those few appearances, Cole managed to score 12 goals, scoring single goals against Aston Villa, Manchester City, and Southampton, braces against Leicester City and Coventry City, also scoring five against Ipswich Town in a 9-0 hammering of the club that season which also saw a brace from Mark Hughes and goals from Roy Keane and Paul Ince too.

Cole played for United in eight different seasons, coming half way through the first and leaving halfway through the last, completing six seasons at the club. In his second season (1995/96), United were tasked to win the Premier League once again after Blackburn won the title the previous season, stopping United from winning the league three seasons in a row. United achieved that with Cole making 43 appearances and scoring 13 goals, 11 of those were in the Premier League alone which saw United finish four points clear of Newcastle United also finishing the season with the FA Cup after beating Liverpool 1-0 with Cantona scoring the only goal of the match.

In the summer of 1996, Cole saw both Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrive at the Old Trafford club. During the 1996/97 season, Cole made just 28 appearances, scoring seven goals in all competitions, which was not his best season at the club by a long shot but it was a season that United retained the Premier League title, also winning the FA Charity Shield at the start of the season, but falling short in the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Champions League once more. United were seeking to sign Alan Shearer from Blackburn that summer, ending up spending 10% of his fee on Solskjaer, which turned out quite well for United – that is another story.

The 1997/98 season was Cole’s best season at the club where he made a total of 45 appearances, scoring 25 goals – the most he had ever scored in one season for the club. It was the first of three good seasons for the player and the club where he would score a total of 71 goals in 140 appearances for the club. United ended the season second in the Premier League, losing to Arsenal by a single point, similar to that season against Blackburn. United won the FA Community Shield, got to the fifth round of the FA Cup, the third round of the League Cup also reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League – but little did anyone know what was coming.

The 1998/99 season is the pinnacle season for United as they won the treble, a feat that has never been achieved by another English club, at least not a proper treble. Cole made 50 appearances for his club that season, scoring 24 goals in all competitions. Cole scored some important goals that season, helping United qualify for the Champions League, scoring against LKS Lodz in the qualification round, scoring twice against Brondby in the group stages and once against Barcelona with new strike partner, Dwight Yorke – who arrived that summer for £12.6 million from Aston Villa, bagging a brace. Cole also scored against Juventus in the semi-final second leg.

United won the Premier League on the final day of the 1998/99 season, beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 with Les Ferdinand opening the scoring (24′), David Beckham equalising (42′) and Cole scoring a 47th winner for United, seeing his side lift the title at Old Trafford. United then won the FA Cup six days later beating Newcastle United 2-0 at Wembley with Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes scoring the goals. Four days later would be the biggest match of the season and some of these player’s careers just four days later. United versus Bayern Munich in the Champions League final at the Nou Camp in Barcelona.

Cole started that match in Barcelona but a sixth minute after Mario Basler scoring a free-kick, beating Peter Schmeichel. Bayern were unlucky not to score more goals in the match, hitting the woodwork more than once throughout the match. Sheringham replaced Jesper Blomqvist in the 67th minute to support United’s attack with Cole being replaced by Solskjaer in the 81st minute, which would change the match for United. In the first minute of added time, United won a corner, taken by Beckham with Sheringham scoring. Two minutes later, another free-kick – Beckham into Sheringham and Solskjaer has won it.

United reached the promised land that season with one of the best teams that Sir Alex Ferguson had ever put together. Cole made another 45 appearances in the 1999/2000 season, scoring 22 goals for United. United won the Premier League again, the third round in the League Cup, did not participate in the FA Cup because of FIFA Club World Cup, which they finished in the group stages of, also winning the Intercontinental Cup. The 2000/01 season was Cole’s last full season at the club, making 31 appearances and scoring 13 goals for the club. United ended with the Premier League again, winning it three times in a row for the first time.

During the 2001/02 season, Cole made 15 appearances for United, scoring five goals. His last goal came in a 3-1 victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. his last appearance for United came in a 1-0 defeat to West Ham United on the 8 December 2001 in which Jermain Defoe scored the only goal of the game. United signed Ruud van Nistelrooy in the summer of 2001, delayed from the year before because of fitness concerns which turned into a ruptured ACL. His arrival limited Cole’s performances for United that season so he was sold to Blackburn Rovers for £8 million, with United making a profit based on the fee paid for him.

Cole won the League Cup with Blackburn only a few months after being sold to the club, which was his twelfth and final trophy of his career. He made 100 appearances, scoring 37 goals for Blackburn then leaving for Fulham (39 appearances, 13 goals), Manchester City (23 appearances, 10 goals), Portsmouth (22 appearances, four goals), Birmingham City on loan (five appearances, one goals), Sunderland (eight appearances, no goals), Burnley on loan (13 appearances, six goals) and finally ending his career at Nottingham Forest (11 appearances, no goals). Cole made a total of 646 appearances during his career, scoring 289 goals.

For United, Cole made 275 appearances, scoring 121 goals and 44 assists and helped the club win five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, one FA Charity Shield and one UEFA Champions League. Since retiring, Cole has coached with Huddersfield Town, achieved his coaching badges working at United’s Carrington training ground and worked with Sol Campbell at Southend United. He has suffered ill-health with kidney failure in 2014 and had a transplant in 2017. He is also an ambassador for United, the club that he spent much of his glittering career at. He turned 49 on the Thursday 15 October 2020 and it was fitting to remember this Manchester United icon.

Written by John Walker

Zlatan Ibrahimovic to play for Manchester United in 2017!

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play for the club again in 2017. The Swedish striker suffered what could have been a career-ending injury in a UEFA Europa League match in April, along with Marcos Rojo and it was deemed that Ibrahimovic would not be back until the second half of the season, penciling him in from January 2018. In his press conference ahead of the Huddersfield Town match on Saturday afternoon, Mourinho suggested his star striker from last season could play again before the end of the year. Mourinho, reported by the official Manchester United website, said:

“Zlatan is here. He’s working here and under our control. He’s working as you would expect – so, so, so hard. But he’s not going to be back in the next week or the next couple of weeks. Let him take his time and be back when everybody feels is the right moment. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

It is something to savour when the big Swede is back in action, he and Romelu Lukaku, along with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial would be some impressive forward line. Of course, there is no guarantee any of them will play together as Mourinho has been playing one out-and-out striker this season but he could opt for two in big matches, which would give United’s opposition something to worry about. The rotation options would see strong United attacking players reserved for each an every match, which would keep players fresh throughout the week, not having much reliance on a particular player.

Earlier on Friday, former Manchester United striker Andy Cole gave an interview with the official Manchester United website and he gave his opinion on Ibrahimovic, also suggesting that he could be back in action for the club, possibly before the end of the year. When talking about the Swede in the gym, Cole said:

“He is doing very good. I had a chat with Zlatan when he was in the gym the other day. I think he is looking forward to coming back, most probably in December or January time. I think he will definitely bring something to the football team, as we already know. After last season, he was fantastic. It will be nice to see him back when he returns.”

Cole then gave his opinion on the player returning in December of January, which is when Mourinho earmarked a return for the player, saying:

“Yeah, December or January time, of course, it is not bad! But like he keeps saying, he is not human. I love his banter and I think his enthusiasm for the game of football, and what he is around the complex, speaks volumes about him.”

It will be a major boost for United once injuries are out-of-the-way, which will never truly be a thing as players will carry injuries for much of the season. At this moment in time though, United are without Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini. Mourinho has confirmed that Marcus Rashford did not suffer an injury on Wednesday evening after scoring that goal against Benfica and Phil Jones, who was on the bench for that match, will be available to face Huddersfield Town on Saturday afternoon at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield.

Andy Cole tips Romelu Lukaku to replicate his goalscoring form for Manchester United

Manchester United legend Andy Cole is excited to see the club’s new number nine, Romelu Lukaku on the pre-season tour of the United States of America this summer. United confirmed the £75 million signing of the Belgian striker from Everton on Monday, a day after Wayne Rooney’s switch to his boyhood club. Lukaku may represent his new club for the first time against LA Galaxy on Saturday, which is what excites Cole. The United hero feels that Lukaku can bring his former club what they were missing last season, goals in the Premier League – Lukaku scored 25 of them for Everton last season, which suggests with better players around him, he could do the same, maybe much better.

Cole, a treble winner with United during the 1998/99 season believed that the Belgian striker can replicate what he provided for Everton last season. The former Chelsea player was tipped to head back to Stamford Bridge but United snuck in and signed the player from under their noses leaving the club seeking a new striker after Diego Costa was told by text message that he had no future at the reigning Premier League champions. Cole, speaking to the official Manchester United website, said:

“He’s a massive signing. They’re all big-money signings nowadays but he’s proven in the Premier League. He’ll get goals and that’s what Manchester United missed last season. I think he’s got plenty of those in him.

“Since he left Chelsea earlier on in his career, the way he’s gone about his business is by getting goals. He did it at West Brom, then got quite a few more goals at Everton, and hopefully that trend will continue at Manchester United.”

Lukaku has been training with his new teammates all week will be itching to put on that famous red shirt on Saturday, the early hours of Sunday in the United Kingdom. The player could very well fill the void left by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer after ending his time at the Old Trafford club with a serious knee injury, which should he recover in time, he could still play for United again, according to reports anyway. Lukaku has been a class goalscorer at Everton, West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea, scoring a hat-trick in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last ever match in charge of the club which ended in a 5-5 draw against The Baggies at The Hawthorns. Lukaku, should he be able to get a good pre-season behind him, could get a flying start in the Premier League, which is what United will be looking for. United fans wanted some excitement, well here it is and hopefully, it pays off.

Marcus Rashford reminds me of Andy Cole, says Dwight Yorke

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has come a long way in 2016 from making his debut on the 25th February against Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League, scoring a brace on his European debut, then facing Arsenal only days later, scoring a brace on his Premier League debut. The 18-year-old, who turns 19 at the end of the month also scored on his England debut against Australia ahead of the European Championships this summer, also scoring on his England U21 debut against Norway, but that was a hat-trick. Rashford has become a star in a short period of time, looking better as each match ends, which suggests he is the player that Manchester United need now and into the future.

Under Jose Mourinho, Rashford has been used sparingly so far this season, which is something that currently works for the club with the attacking talent now at the club and the formation currently being utilised. United have Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is the first choice to lead the line and Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Memphis Depay and even Henrikh Mkhitaryan, although he has been on the sidelines through injury since the international break in September, used as wide-men to support the Swede. Rashford, predominantly a striker has spoken about wanting to play on the left and right of the main striker, also in the role behind, which is currently occupied by either Juan Mata or Wayne Rooney. Rashford has a lot to learn before he becomes the main mat at Manchester United, but the signs so far are looking good. Former Manchester United striker and treble winner Dwight Yorke, speaking exclusively to 888sport, spoke about Rashford and his similarities with Andy Cole, saying:

“Coley and Rashford are very similar. They like to run in on goal. Coley never liked to get involved in link-up play – although he was very good at it – and like all the world’s best strikers he liked to get in on goal. Rashford also has that knack. That allows Wayne Rooney – or myself – to get midfielders running backwards and pick a pass through. It’s always good to have that combination with one going long and the other short. Then you’re confusing defenders. Me and Rashford would have scored some goals and caused some problems believe me. The combination would have been good enough.

“He is still at the development stage. He has some good attributes but to say he is the finished article is just being naïve. He is already under enough scrutiny and pressure from playing for Manchester United. He still needs to develop some things like where to run and to do simple things sometimes. He is not the finished article but has all the attributes to be extremely good at what he does.

“He is playing wide as part of his development process. I started out left myself as a winger. There you get a feel of things and if you’re nineteen and in the team then you’re not going to complain. Eventually, he will end up as a centre forward and do his job even better than he is presently doing.”

Andy Cole made his £6 million (£7 million is you include the deal which saw Keith Gillespie move to Newcastle United) back in 1995. At the time, he was a stunning striker, scoring goals for fun. Whilst at Newcastle, who at the time were challenging Manchester United for the Premier League title, Cole scored 68 goals in 85 matches, which is a run that continued at United, scoring 121 goals in 275 appearances. Glory was something that was around Manchester United at that time, United dominated domestic football under Sir Alex Ferguson with Cole winning five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, two FA Charity Shields and one UEFA Champions League, part of the treble winning season in 1999. Cole was a striker who was deadly in front of goal, especially with his partner in crime, Dwight Yorke. If Marcus Rashford does turn out to be a striker in the mold of Cole, Manchester United will be set for the future. The lad has scored 12 goals in 27 appearances for the club so far, so the signs are there that he could well be the devastating forward United will need, working with Zlatan Ibrahimovic will hone his skills all the more, which will see many afraid to face Rashford in years to come.

Read the full 888sport interview with Dwight Yorkeincluding his thoughts that Rooney will win back his position at United

Mourinho reminiscent of Sir Alex has brought the fear factor back to Old Trafford

Manchester United have come a long way since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season. The David Moyes era passes by quickly, thankfully. The Louis van Gaal stepped into those shoes, did well during his first season earning UEFA Champions League football, but his second season did not go to plan with boring football and poor play infecting the squad and United finishing the season in fifth place, albeit on goal difference to Manchester City, once again out of the Champions League for another season, but in the Europa League instead. The past three years have been bad, based on the fact United were competing for silverware every season with Ferguson, seldom not achieving that. United did win the FA Community Shield under Moyes, the Emirates FA Cup under Van Gaal and so far, the Community Shield once against under Jose Mourinho.

Manchester United have been mocked by everyone over the last three years.Opposition teams coming to Old Trafford and taking points away with them, something which they had not done for many years. The fear factor disappeared like a Manchester City fan inside the Etihad Stadium. The media ripped United apart for everything they did wrong, which was a lot at times. Players came and left, not settling in or performing. The whole period seems to have been mostly a failure, which is a shame. Rebuilding, especially after a manager like Ferguson is always going to be hard. Some teams who have mocked United, namely Arsenal have all this to come, but to be honest, their success is not actually all that great as they have not been in direct competition for a league title for twelve years now, with United’s last title just over three years ago.

Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole feels that the fear factor has already been brought back to the Theatre of Dreams, purely on the basis that Mourinho has instilled confidence back into the United squad and strengthened it with winners like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Paul Pogba, not to mention Eric Bailly who has done a great job at the club so far. Over the past few years, the fear factor has been missing, teams taking advantage of United at Old Trafford, the media mocking the club and rival supporters laughing as the most hated club in the world doing a Liverpool, which all seems a bit far-fetched and wishful thinking. Now, with the fear factor returning and the hate factor coming back with a bang, the former United striker has spoken about it returning. Cole, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:

“I’m hoping the good times are returning and you can certainly see a swagger. All the players are talking about what he (Mourinho) wants to win. The few games we’ve had so far you can see the fear factor returning and that’s what Manchester United is all about. These past few years teams have gone to Old Trafford believing they can win. When you played under Sir Alex Ferguson teams would just hope they wouldn’t get beat by five. Mourinho is bringing that back now and they’re starting to look like the old United.”

With Jose Mourinho at the helm at Old Trafford, for the next three years, hopefully, more as stability is the key with managers, and it looks like the United job has changed Mourinho for the better. Cole spoke about the Portuguese manager reminding him of Ferguson, which has to be one of the biggest compliments one could ever receive, based on the success the Scottish manager brought wherever he went. With the Manchester Derby kicking off on Saturday afternoon, with Mourinho going head-to-head with Pep Guardiola, one of the other world-class managers today, Cole spoke about the similarities between Ferguson and Mourinho. Cole, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:

“Mourinho and Guardiola are both very good managers and both achieved so much but Jose has the same great aura about him as Sir Alex. When you look at what he’s done in the game – going to Italy and Spain and doing it out there – and now he’s trying to emulate his phenomenal record in England.”

Being compared to Ferguson, whilst doing the job he left just over three years ago must be a huge compliment. That fact that Mourinho stepped into Louis van Gaal’s shoes in May, had his first signing, Eric Bailly, across the line soon after, then Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived, closely followed by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, then shortly after that, a world record signing bringing Paul Pogba back to the team he left four years before, that sort of thing would have been unheard of without Ferguson at the helm, if it would have happened with him leading the club. Mourinho seems to have come in, clicked his fingers and got things moving quickly. That then saw confidence at the club rise, in turn, the winning mentality has come back, with the feel good factor, the fear factor and the immense hate for United from rival clubs. Business seems to be back with a bang and soon back to normal.

Read the full 888sport interview with Andy Cole, including his thoughts on how Marcus Rashford can become an Old Trafford legend.

Impossible to tell whether United or City will win the Premier League, says Andy Cole

Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole has spoken about his old club and whether they or Manchester City will win the Premier League this season. So far, after three matches, the spoils are shared, with City at the top of the league on goal difference, with Chelsea also in the mix after all three teams have won their first three matches of the season. United have sat out of the title race for three years under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, but the arrival of Jose Mourinho in the summer has changed things a little. United are a new team, strengthened by the signings of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba. United and City could well take the league to the wire once again, which after three years out of the mix would be a good thing. Cole, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:

“If I knew who would do best in the next three years then I’d head straight to the bookmakers. The way they have both started the season it’s tempting to think that one of them will win it. But then when you look at how Chelsea have started as well. The Premier League is so topsy-turvy now and whoever puts a run together and plays as a team then anything is possible. Leicester showed that.”

Both United and City have great squads capable of winning the league and managers who are hungry to achieve just that. At this early stage of the season, before both teams have met, it would be unwise to suggest who would win the league, as there are still 35 matches to be played, which can go either way. United face City at Old Trafford in the league later this afternoon, the first Manchester derby of the new Premier League season. Over the past two seasons, the spoils have been pretty equal with United losing to City at the Etihad and winning at Old Trafford the season before last, with United and City drawing at Old Trafford and United winning at the Etihad last season. This season, with the rebuilding done by each team, the spoils could be somewhat closer.

Read the full 888sport interview with Andy Cole, including his thoughts on how Marcus Rashford can become an Old Trafford legend.

Marcus Rashford will become an Old Trafford great

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford rose to fame last season, starting in the UEFA Europa League at Old Trafford in a match Louis van Gaal’s side needed to win in order to make the next round of the competition, losing 2-1 to Midtjylland the week previous. Anthony Martial was due to start but was injured in the warm-up with Rashford taking his place. The then 17-year-old scored a brace in a 5-1 victory, starting the match against Arsenal the following Sunday with Rashford against scoring a brace. Last season, Rashford scored eight goals in all competitions, which was a pretty good start to his Manchester United career. He made his debut for England ahead of the European Championships, scoring on his debut against Australia, then featuring in England’s ill-fated tournament in France, starring against Iceland, the only England player to do that.Andy Cole, speaking exclusively to 888Sport

This last week, Rashford, after being demoted to the England U21 squad, scored a hat-trick against Norway in an U21 European Championships qualifier, raising his profile all the more ahead of this weekend’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford. Rashford is a player on the right road to becoming a star, but will be used in the right way for both club and country in order to bring out the best in the player. Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole has recognised that Rashford will become an Old Trafford great after his dramatic rise to fame in the United squad last season. Cole, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:

“Will he become a Manchester United great? We’re all hoping that he can be. He’s had a great start to his career: he’s been brilliant and I’m hoping he has enough games this season to show everyone how good he is. He has all the qualities for the big time and, like myself, he nicks a goal.”

This weekend’s Manchester derby will see United go head-to-head with a resurgent Manchester City, who currently top the Premier League table, on goal difference at least. Both United and City and enjoyed a 100% start to their season, earning nine points out of nine in the Premier League, which could well come to the end for one team this weekend. City will be without the suspended Sergio Aguero, which could mean that Pep Guardiola could spearhead his team with young striker Kelechi Iheanacho, a player who has risen through the City ranks similarly to Rashford, despite him not being a product of Manchester City’s trumpeted Academy, but having a great impact in the side. This could mean that both Iheanacho and Rashford are pitted against each other with Andy Cole suggesting both players could be giants of Manchester. Cole, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:

“They’re both young players starting out in their careers. Though they are different types of players they have both forced their way into their teams by scoring goals. The pair have massive futures. I’m sitting here as a Manchester United fan thinking what a fantastic future Rashford has and with Iheanacho he has taken his opportunity with both hands. I’ll like to see the pair of them spearheading Manchester United and Manchester City – in their respective ways – in years to come.”

The Manchester derby is a prestigious match with a massive rivalry. United have dominated the most over the years, but recently City has risen, with the help of oil-rich Arabs, to give United some competition, which was previously impossible without much money. Both Rashford and Iheanacho are bright prospects for their respective clubs and both will go far, providing they are given the time to succeed and continue their development.

Read the full 888sport interview with Andy Cole, including his thoughts on how Marcus Rashford can become an Old Trafford legend.

Paul Pogba is no Keane or Scholes yet, but could soon be the complete midfielder

Paul Pogba returned to Manchester United this summer with his former club paying £89 million for his services from Juventus, the team he left Old Trafford for after the expiry of his contract in 2012. Just £800,000 was paid in compensation for his services, which is all in the past now and will be a lesson learned for the club. Pogba is a proficient midfielder, one capable of doing spectacular things, like he did on occasion with his former club. The Frenchman may not be a player that many would look at as a match winner, but as a midfielder, many would not turn him away from their squad based on what he can do and offer to any team. The European Championships may not have been the time where Pogba proved himself, but neither did the rest of the French squad as they did not go on to win the tournament they were hosting, like what was speculated and expected.

Pogba returning to United has solved the midfield problem that they were looking to solve. Since Roy Keane left the club, only one man – Owen Hargreaves, looked the part in filling the void left by the Irish midfielder. Injuries ended his time playing for the club, and since then, United have struggled to find the right player to fill that void. Pogba, so far, seems to be that man. Former United striker Andy Cole feels that Pogba can be the complete midfielder for the club, based on what he did over in Italy, what he achieved and how far his development has gone from the days he was on the fringes of the first team, seldom given the chance he craved for. Cole, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:

“I can’t see why he can’t be the complete midfielder. For such a young man to go to Italy and do what he did then, of course, he can. He can be a special player at Old Trafford and that’s why they paid all that money to bring him back.

“To cope with the price as he has done it’s just water off a duck’s back. So fair play to him to come back to Old Trafford for unfinished business and his performances have been good.

“The sad thing about reporters is that there are so many people waiting and hoping he has a bad few games. That’s the industry but I genuinely believe he will be fantastic at Manchester United.”

Pogba seems unfazed about the price he cost his club, making his second debut for the club against Southampton at Old Trafford just under three weeks ago, putting in a great performance and working well with Marouane Fellaini in midfield, also linking with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, another arrival at the club in the summer. Pogba has a lot of potential, potential he can reach at the Theatre of Dreams, in time. Pogba may not yet be at the standards of former United midfielders Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, the latter is one of Pogba’s heroes, one he saw come out of retirement and effectively end his chances of solving a problem in midfield for Sir Alex Ferguson, but nobody would expect him, at the age of 23 to be that good, in a few years time, if he has not matched or bettered the ability of Keane and Scholes, the media would probably have a field day. Andy Cole, talking about Pogba, Keane, and Scholes, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:

“Roy and Scholesy, well I’m very biased because I played with the pair of them. Pogba has the ability to become a fantastic player. But will he surpass them two? I’ll tell you what, if he does then he’ll turn out to be some player. Those two were absolutely phenomenal.

“I’m very biased. The ’99 team was a very good team and what we achieved means a lot of people love that team and want to see Manchester United play like that team.”

Cole knows just how Keane and Scholes ticked, playing with them for the majority of his United career, becoming successful with both in the 1998/99 treble winning season where they became the first English team to win the Premier League, FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League, a proper treble, not a plastic one. The team back in that season was probably one of the best in terms of squad depth that I have seen in the Premier League era, although the 2008/09 squad was equally as good, but did not achieve the heights as the treble-winning squad. Pogba, providing United continue to strengthen and not rest on their laurels like they had during the latter Ferguson years, could eclipse both teams under Mourinho, which is something I am sure he will be looking to do. With the addition of Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly this summer, added to that of Jose Mourinho, the Manchester United squad, at least for the last three years, has never had that many determined winners, which will help a lot to bring back the glory days.

Read the full 888sport interview with Andy Cole, including his thoughts on how Marcus Rashford can become an Old Trafford legend.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is phenomenal for the Premier League, says Andy Cole

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho did something that amazed everyone this summer, bringing in four quality signings all before the start of the season, which was the main surprise. Three of his four signings were done before the squad embarked on their pre-season tour of China, which was great to see. Eric Bailly is one of the best signings Mourinho has made this season after putting in some great performances with defensive partner Daley Blind, who was a surprise defensive player last season, for most anyway. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mourinho;s second signing of the summer is a player that has raised the spirits of United supporters, not to mention his teammates, after three season’s of poor football, watching other teams; Manchester City, Chelsea and Leicester City, lift the title.

Ibrahimovic, a free agent after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain ran down in the summer, will be the feel-good signing of the season. Straight away the Swede proved a point after making his debut in a friendly against Galatasaray in his native Sweden, finding the back of the net with a spectacular goal in the first four minutes of the match, with United eventually winning 5-2, after falling 2-1 behind by the end of the first half. Ibrahimovic also started the season proper with a bang, scoring the winning goal, with a header in the FA Community Shield as United beat current Premier League holders Leicester City at Wembley. The Swede went on to score in his Premier League debut away to Bournemouth in a 3-1 victory, before making his competitive Old Trafford debut, scoring twice (once from the spot) in a 2-0 victory over Southampton, who had won their last two matches at Old Trafford.

Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in his first three matches as a Manchester United player, and could have matched a 91-year-old record should he have scored against Hull City, not for the want of trying. It was Marcus Rashford that struck that day, deep in added time with a typical ‘Fergie Time’ winner which kept United undefeated and more importantly on a 100% start to the season. This weekend, United face Manchester City at Old Trafford, their first big test of the season and they will go into that match as the side many will be behind, putting City back in the shadows, at least for now. Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole has spoken about his excitement to see a player with the qualities of the Swede leading the line at United, also mentioning the phenomenal heights he has reached in his career, winning a league title in every country he has played in. Cole, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:

“I’ve been excited from top to bottom and I’m one of his biggest fans. What he has achieved in his career is phenomenal and he’s started very, very well. Even though I’m not judging him on a few games it looks like he’s had a massive impact so far. He is a big personality which in England can be a problem but it’s crazy because everyone is lapping up what he’s saying.

“If you can’t learn off someone like Zlatan, then you can’t learn off anybody. He has won the title in every country he’s played in and if he does the same in England that would be phenomenal. He has been a super player throughout his career.”

The added extra for Ibrahimovic and United is that he will be able to pass his experience and skills onto other players at United, namely Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Imagine both of those players, as good as they are now, learning from one of te best strikers in the midern game. Ibrahimovic scored 50 goals in 51 appearances for Paris Saint-Germain last season, already scoring four goals in four games this season, which has already solved the goals problem United have faced over the last few seasons, the last one saw United score only 49 goals in the Premier League, seldom tearing teams apart like the United of old used to do. United have already scored a total of six league goals this season, conceding just one, which is a great start to the new era under Jose Mourinho. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a winner, he gives the right mentality to his teammates to help them become winners too, which turns the team into a winner as a whole. This season is going to be an exciting one, which has seen everything chance in the league thus far.

Read the full 888sport interview with Andy Cole, including his thoughts on how Marcus Rashford can become an Old Trafford legend.

Jose Mourinho is the man to bring the va-va-voom out of Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial has had a great first season at Manchester United after sealing his £36 million deadline day transfer just over a year ago. Immediately he was labelled as a ‘waste of money’, but soon got rid of that label as he scored against Liverpool at Old Trafford in the final few minutes of that 3-1 victory for United. The Frenchman then started to find his feet, starting matches and performing, being praised as one of the best young forwards in Europe, also being awarded the Golden Boy award. Martial finished last season with 17 goals to his name, assisting a further eight for his teammates, which ended his debut season on a high. During the current international break, Martial scored his first goal for his country, despite being used throughout the last season for his country and then seldom used during the European Championships this past summer, where France finished as runners-up to Portugal.

Martial is a great talent and seems to know what he wants to get out of the game. He is not yet matching the likes of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to earn the plaudits of European football, but he is tipped to take them all for a ride in the years to come by those who watched him develop his game before being signed by former United manager Louis van Gaal over a year ago. Martial is currently occupying a place on United left-wing, a position he feels happy in, and played the majority of last season in, keeping Memphis Depay out of the starting XI on many occasions. Martial is a great player to have in the squad, he is quick to the ball, great at beating his man and then for him to cut in from the left towards goal, beating his man and getting a shot off is good to see, The Frenchman can be a real handful which is a reason as to why he is heavily marked by opposition teams.

Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole feels that Martial is one for the now and for the future after his performances for the club last season. The European Championships in the summer were not the ideal competition for Martial, being left out of the team on numerous occasions, then coming on too late in the final to change the game, with Didier Deschamps side ending up the losers on the night, which was deservedly so, based on the manager not taking chances throughout the competition. Martial is a mainstay in the United squad and under Mourinho, could be heading for all the glory, which would really kickstart his career at the club. Cole, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:

“I see it as an extension of the Euros. He played a game then got left out and didn’t feature after that and of course that’s going to dent your confidence. He’s a young man and had a fantastic season last season with Manchester United but confidence is everything. He is too good a player not to turn that around and Mourinho will help Anthony get his confidence back. He has worked with players his age before.

“I’ll think he will be okay because all it takes is a goal and I’m not sitting here worried about him because he is far too good not to get out of the slump he’s in.”

This season, Martial has not played his best football, but that is to be expected after the busy summer he has had, not to mention his personal troubles, which have clearly affected him. He will rise to the top of his game once again and will start to play his best football once again. Working under Mourinho this season, the Portuguese will bring out the best of the player, as with the added benefit of playing alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is a winner and will bring that mentality out of all his teammates. United will rise out of their decline this season. All the ingredients are there for that happen, it will take a bit of time for it to be perfected, then the real Manchester United will stand up and announce themselves to the world’s stage once again.

Read the full 888sport interview with Andy Cole, including his thoughts on how Marcus Rashford can become an Old Trafford legend.

copyright: JW