Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned Manchester United trio Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood to improve or they will be replaced. He said:
“If you think you’ve got a divine right to be playing every game and doing so well that we’re not going to look for players to replace you, you’re in the wrong place. I’ve been here for so many years myself as a striker and Teddy Sheringham comes in, Dwight Yorke comes in, Ruud van Nistelrooy comes in, Wayne Rooney comes in.”
It was an impressive show of strength from Solskjaer and a nice hint at the ‘United DNA’ without being nauseatingly explicit. But how do the current strikers match up against those from other seasons? Here is every Premier League season ranked from least to most prolific using the goals of the top three strikers.
28) 2004/05: Wayne Rooney (11); Ruud van Nistelrooy (6); Cristiano Ronaldo (5) – 22 goals
An 18-year-old Rooney failed to fill the void left by Ruud van Nistelrooy as the Dutch hitman missed half the campaign through injury, helpless as Jose Mourinho guided Chelsea to their first Premier League crown.
27) 2015/16: Anthony Martial (11); Wayne Rooney (8); Marcus Rashford (5) – 24 goals
Anthony Martial finished as top scorer following his £54million move from Monaco in the second-leanest season for strikers at United.
26) 2014/15: Wayne Rooney (12); Robin van Persie (10); Radamel Falcao (4) – 26 goals
Radamel Falcao failed to live up to expectations in his debut Premier League season, but he did at least contribute five assists. The Louis van Gaal years were not giddy years.
25) 2016/17: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (17); Marcus Rashford (5); Wayne Rooney (5) – 27 goals
Jose Mourinho attempted to remedy United’s lack of goals by signing legendary striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He did his damnedest but was let down by his teammates and they finished sixth.
24) 1995/96: Eric Cantona (14); Andy Cole (11); Brian McClair (3) – 28 goals
Not a great year for goalscorers, but enough to land United their third title in the first four years of the Premier League.
22=) 2003/04: Ruud van Nistelrooy (20); Louis Saha (7); Cristiano Ronaldo (4) – 31 goals
Saha hit the ground running – scoring seven goals in half a season – and Van Nistelrooy did his thing. Meanwhile, Thierry Henry scored 30 for The Invincibles.
22=) 1993/94: Eric Cantona (18); Mark Hughes (12); Brian McClair (1) – 31 goals
Cantona also contributed 12 assists in his stand-out year for United as they retained the title.
19=) 2018/19: Romelu Lukaku (12); Marcus Rashford (10); Anthony Martial (10) – 32 goals
Lukaku solidified his reputation as a bit of a flat-track bully at United as he failed to score against any of the Big Six, and was promptly shown the door. Pogba actually top-scored with 15.
19=) 2017/18: Romelu Lukaku (16); Anthony Martial (9); Marcus Rashford (7) – 32 goals
Romelu Lukaku scored seven goals in his first seven games at Old Trafford as United finished as runners-up in the Premier League, 19 points behind champions Manchester City.
19=) 1994/95: Eric Cantona (12); Andy Cole (12); Mark Hughes (8) – 32 goals
12 goals from Andy Cole after his infamous mid-season move from Newcastle was pretty, pretty, pretty good. But not as good as the 34 Alan Shearer managed for champions Blackburn.
17=) 1997/98: Andy Cole (15); Teddy Sheringham (9); Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (9) – 33 goals
David Beckham also contributed nine goals as United lost the title to Arsenal by one point.
17=) 1992/93: Mark Hughes (15); Brian McClair (9); Eric Cantona (9) – 33 goals
Mark Hughes was the star as United won the first ever Premier League title, and the club’s first top-flight crown since 1967.
15=) 2000/01: Teddy Sheringham (15); Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (11); Andy Cole (9) – 35 goals
United cruised to the title with Teddy Sheringham the main man.
15=) 1996/97: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (18); Eric Cantona (11); Andy Cole (6) – 35 goals
The current United boss scored 18 in his debut Premier League season, with Cantona the provider again with 12 assists in yet another title triumph.
13=) 2019/20: Marcus Rashford (15); Anthony Martial (15); Mason Greenwood (8) – 38 goals
The current United trio find themselves in the middle of the pack and could easily climb into the top ten with five games to go.
13=) 2013/14: Wayne Rooney (17); Robin van Persie (12); Danny Welbeck (9) – 38 goals
Two world-class strikers but their worst-ever Premier League finish of seventh.
11=) 2008/09: Cristiano Ronaldo (18); Wayne Rooney (12); Dimitar Berbatov (9) – 39 goals
Carlos Tevez chipped in with five goals and Berbatov contributed 11 assists as United won their third title on the trot.
11=) 2006/07: Cristiano Ronaldo (17); Wayne Rooney (14); Louis Saha (8) – 39 goals
Ronaldo and Rooney fired United to their first title since 2003, with the front three also contributing 32 assists. Solskjaer rolled back the years, finding the net on seven occasions.
10) 2002/03: Ruud van Nistelrooy (25); Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (9); Diego Forlan (6) – 40 goals
Van Nistelrooy guided United to the title, scoring a ridiculous 44 in all competitions; Diego Forlan failed to make his mark.
9) 2009/10: Wayne Rooney (26); Dimitar Berbatov (12); Michael Owen (3) –41 goals
A fantastic year for Rooney, but a better one for Didier Drogba, who scored 30 goals to fire Chelsea to the title under Carlo Ancelotti.
7=) 2010/11: Dimitar Berbatov (20); Javier Hernandez (13); Wayne Rooney (11) – 44 goals
Berbatov scored over half his tally in just three games, including five in the 7-1 win over Blackburn.
7=) 2001/02: Ruud van Nistelrooy (23); Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (17); Andy Cole (4) – 44 goals
Van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer formed a formidable partnership but Arsenal won the title under Arsene Wenger.
5=) 2011/12: Wayne Rooney (27); Javier Hernandez (10); Danny Welbeck (9) – 46 goals
Wayne Rooney’s most prolific season in the Premier League. But then there was AGUEROOOOO.
5=) 2005/06: Ruud van Nistelrooy (21); Wayne Rooney (16); Cristiano Ronaldo (9) – 46 goals
Van Nistelrooy’s fourth 20-plus goal season wasn’t quite enough as United fell eight points short as Jose Mourinho retained the Premier League title with Chelsea.
4) 1998/99: Dwight Yorke (18); Andy Cole (17); Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (12) – 47 goals
Dwight Yorke joined from Aston Villa to create arguably the best strike partnership in Premier League history. They won more than their fair share that season.
3) 2012/13: Robin van Persie (26); Wayne Rooney (12); Javier Hernandez (10) – 48 goals
The last season in which a United player scored more than 20 goals is also the last time they won the title. Van Persie also contributed 15 assists in an incredible debut season at Old Trafford.
2) 1999/00: Dwight Yorke (20); Andy Cole (19); Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (12) – 51 goals
The Yorke-Cole axis continued to blossom as United scored 97 goals in the league – their highest ever total. Kevin Phillips got 30 though…
1) 2007/08: Cristiano Ronaldo (31); Carlos Tevez (14); Wayne Rooney (12) – 57 goals
An astounding year for Cristiano Ronaldo and United as a whole, as the Red Devils pipped Chelsea to the Premier League title and rubbed salt in their wounds in Moscow to claim the Champions League.
Will Ford is on Twitter