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Sir Alex Ferguson’s Greatest Manchester United Striker

Over his 27-year reign, Sir Alex Ferguson had some magnificent strikers who lit up Old Trafford. They varied as the decades went by and the game adapted, but each played a pivotal role in making Manchester United what it is today. Their skills range from the lethal poacher ready to score at any moment and the more technically gifted player willing to drop deep and create chances for his teammates. 

Firstly, so what makes a good United striker? For me it has to be bravery, confidence and consistency. This striker would be the team’s main source of goals, the player the team looks upon for a moment of magic or for them to take that one chance in the game and win it for them. Therefore, bravery, confidence and consistency are pivotal as if this striker isn’t brave, he won’t have the attitude to dive for every header and go in for every 50/50, but a player with bravery will score you those scrappy goals but these are the ones that make all the difference.

Confidence and consistency are simple terms but are necessary to make a great striker as without confidence the player won’t play at his best and could become a liability and without consistency the team can never fully rely on their striker which will massively hinder their team as the players around him need to know they can trust their striker. Hence why at the moment, Anthony Martial is sparking debate as to whether he’s good enough to play as United’s striker, as over his six years at the club he’s shown high potential and provided some good seasons especially the 2019/20 season where he scored 17 goals in the league and providing seven assists in 32 games, but he’s not managed to consistently equal these performances and his form has a tendency to slump often.

Ferguson had many strikers in his reign and this article will specifically look at five. These include, Andy Cole, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Dwight Yorke. Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo would have made the top five, but I wouldn’t consider them as an out and out strikers under Ferguson.

Firstly, Andy Cole. He was an £8.64 million signing in January of 1995 which at the time was a British transfer fee record so expectations were high. He played 274 games for the Red Devils slotting in 121 goals and providing 44 assists as well. He formed a great partnership with another player on this list; Dwight Yorke. Yorke was a Trinidadian striker who joined United in July 1998 for a huge fee at the time of £17.33 million, thus like Cole expectations were also extremely high. He manged 65 goals and 29 assists in 152 games before leaving United in 2002. The pair won the historic treble and will undoubtedly go down as United legends but who was better? Both were brilliant players and had excellent chemistry but for me Andy Cole was the better player due to his lethal finishing but if it wasn’t for the link up with Yorke, he wouldn’t have been so successful. 

Ruud van Nistelrooy also came into United for a big fee in 2001 when he signed for £25.65 million from PSV Eindhoven. Van Nistelrooy epitomised the term poacher, as he was always in the right position at the right time with deadly finishing to score an abundance of goals. At his time at United he scored 150 goals with 20 assists in 219 games. In his best league season, he managed 25 goals in 34 games with three assists. In his five seasons in the Premier League, he managed to hit over 20 goals in 4 of them. He was a lethal finisher, with one of the highest goals per minute ratios in the Premier League of all time. However, one drawback to his ability was his overall game. As he was a poacher, he wasn’t that creative and his overall game wasn’t as strong as others on the list which means he can’t be ranked as United’s greatest striker under Ferguson.

The next striker is Wayne Rooney, he was a debatable one as arguably he can be seen as more of an allrounder and not a specific striker but he did play as a striker for Ferguson in certain seasons and parts of seasons so therefore I’d include him as a striker in Ferguson’s reign. Rooney signed for United in 2004 for £33.30 million and went onto play 559 games, scoring 223 goals and providing 146 assists. Then as a centre forward he managed 74 goals and 40 assists in 170 games. Statistically, he has an unbelievable record, scoring hundreds of goals and providing hundreds of assists even as a striker; and this defines Wayne Rooney as a player because he wasn’t one dimensional or limited in his game, he had everything, pace, power, finishing, passing, strength.

He could be the man to score the goals United needed but also provided that creative linkup bringing others into the game at the same time. As a striker he was quite unique, in this decade someone similar to Rooney would be Harry Kane who is blessed with brilliant vision and passing as well as great finishing. Furthermore, Rooney wasn’t one to shy away in the big games scoring one of the most iconic goals in Premier League history with a bicycle kick against local rivals Manchester City also managing many goals against the ‘Big Six’ scoring six goals against Liverpool, nine against Chelsea, ten against City and fifteen goals against Arsenal overall in his United and Everton Premier League career.

Rooney had what poachers like Van Nistelrooy didn’t and despite Yorke and Coles ability to partially do what Rooney could do, neither could do it to the level that Rooney could. Rooney’s overall game is what would place him above his fellow strikers at United as he wasn’t ever limited to just one dimension in a game, he could help his team in many ways which is pivotal to leading the team to success. Some of Rooney’s game came after Ferguson’s departure but a huge majority of his best performances and form came from under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Finally, Robin Van Persie although not at the club for long is regarded by many as a United legend for his title winning contributions in the 2012/13 season in which he signed from big rivals Arsenal for £27.63 million. Van Persie was a proven striker who Wenger proclaimed to Ferguson after the signing that he’s a better player than you think.” He was brought in to be the final piece in the puzzle for Ferguson’s men in which unbeknownst to him would be Fergusons last season at the club. In his first and only season under Ferguson, Van Persie scored 30 goals with 26 of those coming in the Premier League and three in the Champions League and one in the FA Cup.

He didn’t manage to win the Champions League in this season which Ferguson would have aimed to achieve, but this is more due to a controversial decision made by the referee Cuneyt Cakir in the Champions League Round of 16 against Real Madrid to send Nani off after United looked the stronger team. However, Van Persie did manage to secure United their famous 20th title with such a strong performance from him throughout the season meaning many have claimed he single handily won United the title in this season. His 15 assists show his ability to link well with Rooney, seen especially against Aston Villa with that iconic volley after a beautiful pass from Rooney. Overall, Van Persie with more years under Ferguson could have been the best but having only played one full season restricted him.

In conclusion, I feel all five off these strikers are brilliant United greats but the best of them all was Wayne Rooney. He was a loyal servant to the club, but in particular was a world class footballer with a unique ability to pick any pass and play it, helping better the fluidity and link up within the United forwards. He scored crucial goals in pivotal times for United winning 16 trophies and was a role model to others as he never gave in and always performed for the badge. Therefore, I feel Rooney despite not being the most clinical or most conventional CF was United’s best striker in Ferguson’s reign due to his completeness as a player having everything to his game which the others couldn’t boast to their names. 

Written by Ethan Bents

Robin van Persie heaps praise on Mason Greenwood, who has been likened to the Dutchman

Former Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has heaped praise on forward Mason Greenwood after his great start to his career at the club this season. The Dutchman has stated that Greenwood, 18, is playing better than he did at the same age. That is some confidence boosting comment from a player in which the teenager has been likened to in the past year or so. Greenwood and Van Persie share the same style of play with Greenwood able to hit with both feet, something he has shown this season.

Back in 2004, Van Persie signed for Arsenal as an 18-year-old, scoring 10 goals in his first season, seeing limited time on the pitch during that season. Soon though, the Dutchman was showing glimpses of the player that he was going to become, which is what Greenwood is doing now. Greenwood has scored 10 goals in the Premier League alone this season, scoring seven more in other competitions; five in the UEFA Europa League and one in each of the Emirates FA Cup and the Carabao Cup. At youth level, Greenwood also has two goals in two appearances at U23 level.

It is good for the 18-year-old to be praised by players who have literally done what he has at the same age as it will raise his confidence, even though that seems to be high at this moment in time. The player will know that he is heading in the right direction and could see reward for all of his hard work in the very near future. United earned a UEFA Europa League semi-final against Sevilla by beating FC Copenhagen on Monday evening, which could see United earn a final place, if they beat the Spanish side.

The Dutchman left United in the summer of 2012 and despite rumours at the time suggesting that Arsenal wanted to keep the player, he confirmed recently that he was not offered a new contract so decided to sign for United and play under Sir Alex Ferguson in what was his final season in charge of the club, promptly announcing his retirement before the final match of the season, which shocked everyone. Van Persie made a total of 105 appearances for United, scoring 58 goals and 21 assists. Speaking to Enterprise Rent-A-Car and reported by The Mirror, Van Persie said:

“When I watch him play, it just brings a big smile to my face. He’s deadly with his finishing. The way he finishes is very unique. He’s 18 years old! As a young kid, I didn’t score many goals when I was 18 so Mason Greenwood is definitely doing better at 18 than me.”

The Dutchman also underlined the work of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the rise of Greenwood this season, which is something that many will miss. Some supporters seem to have an agenda against Solskjaer and no matter what he does, they will always want serial winner, Mauricio Pochettino – who has won nothing as he is the better manager, apparently. With United facing Sevilla on Sunday, Van Persie has also talked up his former clubs chances of success in the competition, the same competition the club won in the 2016/17 season only this season, they have already guaranteed their place in the UEFA Champions League. Van Persie said:

“Solskjaer makes Greenwood one of the main guys and that is what you want. You want that coming from the coach.

“And Solskjaer gives that to Bruno Fernandes, to Paul Pogba, to Mason Greenwood, to Marcus Rashford, to Anthony Martial and you can see these guys blossom with that, they love it.

“They have more control, they’re more bossing games and everyone knows that you have to be consistent if you want to be competing for trophies.

“They are more consistent now and if they keep doing that they are definitely contenders.”

Written by John Walker

Robin van Persie opens up on mental toughness of last Manchester United team to be champions

Former Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has opened up on the mental and physical toughness he and his teammates needed to win the Premier League title during the 2012/13 season. The Dutchman signed for the Old Trafford club from Arsenal for £24 million, according to the BBC, which was worth every penny. The player was the clubs top scorer, winning the golden boot in the Premier League as well as being the catalyst to United lifting the league title, their 13th Premier League title and 20th league title in the history of the club.

During the 2012/13 season, Van Persie scored 30 goals in all competitions including 26 scored in the Premier League as United romped to the title, securing it with a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on the 22 April 2013 with the Dutchman scoring a hat-trick. The 36-year-old has recalled a chat with former teammate and current coach at United, Michael Carrick following United’s 3-2 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad in which Van Persie scored a late winner. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Van Persie said:

“I was talking with Carrick after the game and he said if you start to win these type of games, we have a very good chance of winning this year.

“That is what I felt during that whole first season: everyone was so relaxed and confident. We went behind in 16 different games in the league and we still won by 11 points.”

Van Persie then went into detail about the qualities he and his teammates needed to ensure they wrestled the Premier League title from Manchester City, after losing out on goal difference during the 2011/12 season after Sergio Aguero scored that goal against Queens Park Rangers to end United’s hopes of a 20th league title that season. If United are to add to their league title haul under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his squad will need to have similar characteristics, which is something that the Norwegian will understand, having been part of United’s treble winning team during the 1998/99 season with United lifting the Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League trophies. Van Persie concluded by saying:

“The toughness of everyone, physically and mentally: I was impressed at the level.

“In training sessions they were tough on each other, but everyone was okay with it. They were just cracking on and dealing with injuries, setbacks and defeats.

“There was a calmness, in combination with the characters and staff we had. There was some kind of arrogance floating around everyone: we got this, whatever happens, we got it.”

The Dutchman spent three seasons at United and after that first season, the magic soon drained away after Sir Alex Ferguson retired. The legendary Scottish manager was one of the reasons why Van Persie signed for United. In his time at the club, he made a total of 105 appearances, scoring 58 goals and 21 assists. He left in the summer of 2015 for Turkish side Fenerbahce who paid just £3.84 million for the player, which was a pittance considering what was still left in his locker. At United, Van Persie won the Premier League and the FA Community Shield, winning the FA Cup at Arsenal, leaving because he did not think Arsenal could challenge for the league title, which was even better when his former club gave him the guard of honour.

Written by John Walker

Robin van Persie still thinks highly of Manchester United after picking names four of the clubs stars as the ‘best he’s ever player with’

Former Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has named six of the best players he has ever played with during his career, which saw him play for Feyenoord, Arsenal, United, Fenerbahce, finishing his career at his first club, spending 19 years playing the game he loved. He won some major honours too, lifting eight trophies – one of them being the Premier League, which the player was proud of.

Four of the players he named as the best he has ever played with all played for United, however, he only ever played with three of them whilst he was at the club. The 35-year-old moved to United in the summer of 2012, at the time rumours were not true with Arsenal not offering him a new contract, which is something that was confirmed by the player in recent weeks.

The Dutchman was asked by BBC Sport to pick the best player that he has ever player with during his career, however, Van Persie was unable to pick just one player, playing with some of the best players in the world during his time in the game. So instead, he named the best six players he had played with, which seems surprising considering how long he spend at United as opposed to Arsenal and Feyenoord.

Van Persie had a great relationship with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and was gutted when the manager announced his retirement during his first season at the club, the same season that he was the clubs top scorer and being the main driving force with the club winning their 20th league title, a 13th Premier League title. When asked by BBC Sport to name his most talented teammate, the Dutchman said:

“So difficult to name one. I would go for Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy.”

Obviously, the Dutchman played with Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry at Arsenal, playing with the former internationally with The Netherlands also. During his time at United, he played with Paul Scholes for one season, him retiring at the end of the 2012/13 season and player with Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney until he left the club in the summer of 2015. He never played with Ruud van Nistelrooy at United, only internationally with the Netherlands.

It is good that Van Persie holds United with so much regard even if he was forced out of the club by then manager Louis Van Gaal in the summer of 2015, when he left for Turkish side Fenerbahce. He had one year remaining on his contract at the club but the fellow Dutchman seemingly wanted the player gone, with the club accepting just £3.84 million for the player. Van Persie, speaking about his United exit, said:

“Because I had one more year on my deal, maybe I should have stayed. But then Van Gaal was the coach and he made it quite clear what his intentions were.

“Then you have to make a decision: Do you stay and fight for your place? Would it be an honest competition or not? Based on all that info, we decided to move on.

“But three years is not three days, it’s still a long period, it’s still a big part of my football career, and in total 11 years of football in England… as a kid I would never have dreamed of that.”

Robin van Persie confirms that he left Arsenal as they failed to offer a new deal; the rest is history

Former Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has confirmed why he left Arsenal in the summer of 2012. The player signed for United and led them to a twentieth league title during the same season that Sir Alex Ferguson retired, which was a shock to many including the Dutchman. United signed Van Persie for £24 million.

Van Persie played for United for three seasons, leaving in the summer of 2015 for Fenerbahce for just £3.84 million, which seemed a pittance for the player at that time. The Dutchman, who was entering the twilight of his career at the time he signed for United, scored 30 goals in 48 appearances for the club in the 2012/13 season.

At the time he left Arsenal, the Dutchman penned a letter to the Arsenal faithful, refusing to go into any details as to why he had left the club. After retiring from football, Van Persie is now employed as a pundit for BT Sport and is in a position to give more details as to why he left the North London club, saying:

“You can compare [me being at Arsenal] to being married. Me and my wife – Arsenal – were married for eight years. After eight years, my wife, possibly got a bit tired of me. Those are the facts.

“If Arsenal are not offering you a new deal… you can have different views on things but the fact is Arsenal never offered me a new deal. Then you have a look around. I was ambitious. I still wanted to win the league. That is life.

“I ended up having three options. One option abroad disappeared quickly. Then it was City or Manchester United. What people don’t know, during the transfer, loads of things are happening behind the scenes.

“You have to take a lot on and make a choice based on what your targets are but also deal with the facts. One of the main facts was that Arsenal got tired of me.

“That was the starting point – they didn’t offer me a new deal. We had loads of chats with Wenger, with [Ivan] Gazidis. They gave me no decision to make.”

At the time of his move to United, Van Persie stated that he had “no hard feeling” with the club. At the time, it was reported that former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger was to make Van Persie the highest paid player at the club, but that clearly did not materialise with the fact the player left the club and headed off to Manchester.

It is something that irks Arsenal supporters, even today with Van Persie literally being the main ingredient in United’s 20th league title, winning the Premier League Golden Boot that season, which is what he had won in his last season (2011/12) at Arsenal, only not winning the title, which is effectively what he thought he could win, and did, at United.

It seems astonishing that Arsenal did not offer Van Persie a new contract at the club the summer he left and perhaps the Arsenal supporters who turned against the Dutchman at the time he left, should probably look a little closer to home as to why the player left the club. Will that happen though? That remains to be seen.

Van Persie was a cracking addition for Ferguson in the summer of 2012. Granted, he worked well at the club for one season, the last season United won the Premier League title. During the 2013/14 season, Van Persie scored 18 goals in 28 appearances, then in his final season, the 2014/15 season, he scored 10 goals in 29 appearances.

Since leaving United, the Dutchman played for three seasons in Turkey, for Fenerbahce, playing a total of 87 times, scoring 36 goals for the club, which was still a good rate of goals based on appearances, especially at his age. On leaving Turkey, Van Persie signed for Feyenoord, his former club (before Arsenal) scoring 25 goals in 45 appearances before retiring.

Mason Greenwood to grow into a player of Robin van Persie’s calibre; Manchester United teammate thinks so

Mason Greenwood has not yet completed his first full season in Manchester United’s first team, yet he has had a superior season and has been lauded as the next best thing. His teammate, Luke Shaw, feels that he is going to become a special player at the club, having all the attributes to emulate Robin van Persie.

This season, despite the coronavirus pandemic suspending world football, Greenwood has made a total of 36 appearances for the first team, playing in the Premier League, the UEFA Europa League, the Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup, scoring 12 goals and assisting four more. He has played a total of 1,655 minutes of football for the first team.

Greenwood has taken to the first team like a duck to water, making an impact in many matches he has played with five of his goals scored in the Premier League, another five in the Europa League, the other two in either cup competition. Of course, there has been some matches his impact was minimal, he’s 18 and still getting to grips with the game.

Shaw, 24, has been involved with Manchester United’s official website during the coronavirus pandemic, writing a Lockdown Diary. In the latest part, he spoke about Greenwood, drawing the comparisons with the Dutchman. Van Persie achieved a lot for United, his first season was special. Shaw, speaking about his teammate, said:

“He’s had a fantastic first season in the first team. He’s clearly a natural goalscorer. This season – even though he doesn’t start all the time – his goals return and his stats are great, and he’s got some assists too. For someone so young, in their first season, he’s done brilliantly.

“He’s still got so much to learn, but if he carries on working hard and pushes himself every day then I don’t see why we can’t see him turn into another Robin van Persie or a player of that style that’ll score lots of goals for us.

“Purely the fact that he’s so two-footed, it’s unbelievable. When I was younger, when I played youth football, there was a young lad called Lewis Baker who played with Chelsea, he was always both-footed.

“Him and Mason are probably the only two pure two-footed players I’ve seen. When I was at Southampton, Adam Lallana could also use his left and right very well.

“Also Ravel Morrison was very strong on both feet and we’ve seen a lot of people talking about his potential in recent weeks, but I’d say Mason is stronger on that front.”

Van Persie, in his first season at United, made a total of 48 appearances in the Premier League, FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League, playing 3,696 minutes of football, scoring 30 goals (26 in the league) and 15 assists. Wearing the number twenty shirt at the club, that is exactly what the Dutchman helped to deliver, league title number twenty, the 13th Premier League title. Some achievement.

In total, Van Persie, in his three season at United (2012/13 to 2014/15), the Dutchman made a total of 105 appearances for United, scoring 58 goals, assisting 21 more, playing a total of 7,979 minutes of football for the club. In his relatively short time at United, Van Persie lifted the Premier League title and the FA Community Shield, which made him happy.

If Greenwood could emulate Van Persie during his career, mimicking his ability in the box and his skill to score goals galore, he will be a hit for the club. During his career, which was spent at Feyenoord, where it started and ended, Arsenal, United and Fenerbahce, the Dutchman made a total of 591 appearances, scoring 272 goals and 100 assists. That is some career.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will want to keep Greenwood grounded, as he has done this season. The 18-year-old has some ability and a lot to learn in the game. If United can bring in an experienced striker to guide him during the next few years, the boy could be something beyond special. I look forward to watching this player grow and shine at this club.

Manchester United told to sign Edinson Cavani this summer by Robin van Persie

Manchester United have been told to sign Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani in the summer by former United striker Robin van Persie. The Dutchman famously signed for United from Arsenal for £24 million in the summer of 2012, scoring 26 goals and 15 assists in the Premier League during the 2012/13 season which helped the club win their 20th league title.

United were rumoured to be interested in the Uruguayan during the January transfer window with the player said to be available at the time for €20 million, however, they opted to sign Odion Ighalo from Shanghai Shenhua on a six-month loan instead. Cavani will be a free agent in the summer, meaning clubs could get a good deal to sign the player.

Van Persie, speaking to Sport Bible feels that it would be a ‘no brainer’ for United to snap up Cavani, despite interest from Atletico Madrid, which was said to be the destination for the player last month, despite him staying put in Paris. I see two sides to this which would be both a positive and a negative for United. The Dutchman said:

“Edinson Cavani. I would definitely go for Cavani.

“He’s very fit, he’s a proven goalscorer, a goal machine, he has proven it at Napoli, PSG and Uruguay.

“With him, if he starts, he will get you 25 goals a season.

“I’ve watched him play, I’ve played against him, he is like a proper goalscorer.

“He lives by scoring goals so I’d go for him.”

One of the negatives is that Cavani has just turned 33 so will not be a player associated with the rebuild that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants at the club with the likes of Moussa Dembele and Diogo Jota both linked to the Old Trafford club. However, in terms of experience, he will fit the bill in a way, especially for the likes of Mason Greenwood.

Currently, United have Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Greenwood as the forwards in the team. Between them they have scored 49 goals and 12 assists this season, which is a good return. United, after selling Romelu Lukaku last summer left themselves short of options in attack this season and that was before Rashford was injured and Ighalo came into the club.

Cavani could offer something to Rashford, Martial and Greenwood, which would be a positive in their development but the negative there would be that he would expect to be the lead striker all of the time, not settling for a place on the bench, which might be the case. In terms of what he offers, his seven goals and two assists in 19 appearances for PSG this season will be a worry.

United need a striker who can find his feet at the club, offer more than Martial, Rashford and Greenwood in the main striker position, especially if Solskjaer keeps the same 4-2-3-1 formation next season, or even a 4-3-3 formation. When playing two strikers, leaving the fullbacks to become the wide men in the team, it might be different.

I am sure that Solskjaer will prefer to sign the likes of Dembele or Jota as their age – both 23, will suit the team more than the 33-year-old Cavani, who with all due respect is nearing the end if his career. If he was a free agent and could be signed on a relatively cheap wage, which may be unlikely.

It might be good to have him around, but in terms of a superstar signing, which it might be, the expense might be too much. He could teach Greenwood some good skills a she is early in his career but so could the likes of Jota and Dembele, or whoever United sign to lead the line. The fact is that United need someone, not necessarily Cavani.

copyright: JW