The old saying we all learned as children that “It takes one to know one” may not always be correct in the harsh reality of life but there must be times when there has to be some truth in it. Former Manchester United prolific striker Andy Cole is second only to Alan Shearer on the list of all time highest Premier League goal scorers so when he says that there’s not a striker available who would be worth spending a fortune on, he should at least be listened to.
Cole was of course referring to the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson has not yet opened his cheque book to secure an experienced, proven hitman. He told the Manchester Evening News that “If the manager did have £40-50m to spend who would you spend it on? There isn’t a stand out striker you’d pay that kind of money for” adding that in his opinion “there are no number nines out there. If there was everybody would be after him. There isn’t anybody around who gets the tap ins.”
If that’s the case Sir Alex will have no other option but to rely on the promising but yet unproven Mexico new signing Javier Hernandez, the fast developing Federico Macheda and the hopefully retained Danny Welbeck to provide back up for Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and veteran Michael Owen providing he recovers well from injury and retains fitness for the whole season.
Contrary to many fans who have lost faith in Berbatov following two disappointing seasons at Old Trafford, Cole has little doubt that the club record signing can silence his critics by finally producing the goods. “I think Dimitar is due a Tottenham style 20 goals in a season” he believes “People question whether he has that kind of return in him but he did it twice for Spurs. He hit 27 in his last season at White Hart Lane and 25 the campaign before.”
“He has proved he can come in with a very decent haul. He was not a one season wonder at Tottenham because he did it more than once. He also had good figures at Bayer Leverkusen. I am convinced he can grab similar totals for United if he plays enough games.” Cole argues that “Critics go on about him only scoring 12 goals last year but he only started 29 matches so that wasn’t a bad ratio at all. Berbatov has got quality and we all know that. He just needs games and goals. I think the goals are certain to come from him. He is due a big season and you’d have to say after two seasons already at Old Trafford then he has to do it now. This is a big year for him. But I believe in him.”
Berbatov is not the only hitman who Cole expects a big season from “Hernandez looked sharp at the World Cup for Mexico. He has a good eye for goal” said Cole. “The two young lads Macheda and Welbeck didn’t get much time last year so they will be hungry this season and as for Michael Owen, if he stays fit then he can come in with a fair few goals. He scored nine last season yet only started 11 matches. Even used sparingly, if Michael is 100 per cent then you would expect him to score around 10-15 in a campaign. If by some chance he plays most matches then he is still a 20 goals a season player.
It’s worth remembering that thanks to the impressive haul obtained by Rooney and despite the fact that Berbatov and Owen only started 40 matches between them, United found the net 86 times in the Premier League last season which was more than the three previous title winning campaigns. It’s an encouraging indication that goal scoring should not be the problem many critics expect it to be. Cole may prove to be just as much on target with his comments as he was when hitting the back of the net so regularly during his playing days.
Can United match the 86 Premier League goals that were scored last season?