Famous four

Man Utd's legendary strikers Cole, Yorke, Sheringham and Solskjaer have their say on the current crop.

Last Updated: 11/02/13 at 14:25

Manchester United have the opportunity to emulate their historic 1999 Treble-winning season this term as they remain in contention for Premier League, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup glory.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side stand 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, while their next challenge in Europe sees them tackle Spanish giants Real Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 clash at Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

The Red Devils are also through to the fifth round of the FA Cup, where they will meet Premier League strugglers Reading at Old Trafford next Monday evening.

United's legendary trophy haul of 14 years ago was inspired by their front four of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with all of the quartet making key contributions as three pieces of silverware were secured over 11 glorious days in May 1999.

Ferguson believes his current striking quartet - Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck - are the closest he has come to matching his vintage crop from the last millennium, but that claim was not met with universal approval by the United greats.

Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez

PlayerPL Games 12/13Minutes PlayedGoalsMins per Goal
Robin van Persie26211619111.4
Wayne Rooney18138410138.4
Javier Hernández14622877.8
Danny Welbeck199391939.0
     
PlayerPL Games 98/99Minutes PlayedGoalsMins per Goal
Dwight Yorke32278918154.9
Andrew Cole32235817138.7
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer198531271.1
Teddy Sheringham177462373.0

Sky Sports reporter Geoff Shreeves conducted an exclusive and extensive interview with Cole, Yorke, Sheringham and Solsjkaer and quizzed them on a variety of issues, including if they felt United's current side - and the forwards in particular - can measure up against the class of 99.

Cole and Yorke were regarded as the first-choice duo in the 1998/99 campaign, although it was Sheringham and Solskjaer who secured the last-gasp triumph over Bayern Munich at Camp Nou as victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat, and the former remain loyal to their team of the time.

I'm brutally honest, I'm very biased towards my team, so I'll have to say no. The team that I played in was a phenomenal team. We could tough it out, we could play football, we had all those attributes.
Andy Cole

Cole said: "I'm brutally honest, I'm very biased towards my team, so I'll have to say no. The team that I played in was a phenomenal team. We could tough it out, we could play football, we had all those attributes.

"Taking nothing away from these boys, they are fantastic players. You will only get judged on what you have at the end of the season. They will get judged at the end of the season, but I think they are a fantastic four."

And Yorke added: "In my opinion, I don't think so. In terms of what we achieved in that 1999 season, our team was a complete team. We had Schmeichel in goal, Jaap Stam, Ronny Johnsen, Gary Neville, Denis Irwin, Becks, Giggs, Scholes, Keano and the four boys at the top.

"In terms of what we achieved then it's hard to say that the current team is better than us. I'm not saying the current team is not good, but until they actually eclipse that moment and what we did as a team that year it is difficult to compare."

Sheringham, who scored only two Premier League goals in what he admits was a frustrating campaign before his vital strikes in the FA Cup and Champions League finals, was more diplomatic.

"It's close," he said. "Van Persie is a fantastic player, Rooney is world class when he is on his game and the other two are very capable as well. I wouldn't like to say, I'll leave that for other people."

You never lose the game having good strikers. You can put them on and you might win it.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

And it was left to the ultimate super-sub and team player Solskjaer, a man who thrived in the role of Ferguson's impact player and never outwardly showed any frustration over his relative lack of starts, to offer his opinion that the current crop measured up.

"I think so," he said. "You have got world-class players in Rooney and Van Persie, players who have proved themselves on the international stage. The gaffer can't say if this four or those four were the best ones. He is very, very happy to have the four he has.

"You never lose the game having good strikers. You can put them on and you might win it. I know he likes at least four to share the football between them. He will probably end up with a couple of trophies at the end, hopefully three."

You can only watch the best UEFA Champions League coverage here on Sky Sports. Watch Real Madrid v Manchester United exclusively live on Sky Sports 2HD and Sky Go from 6:00pm on Wednesday 13th February. Click here for more details and watch goals from United's route to the last 16.

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