Sir Alex Ferguson claimed that in the 1998/99 season when his Manchester United side won the treble, he had in his ranks the four best strikers in Europe.
He was referring to Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sherrngham, and Ole Gunner Solskjaer who between them scored 76 goals in all competitions.
Ferguson also stated upon his purchase of current top goalscorer Robin van Persie from Arsenal last summer that it was his intention to replicate his treble winning strike-force.
The Dutchman was the PFA and PWA Player of the Year last term for his 37 goals in all competition for the North Londoners and has already netted 11 for United this season.
Wayne Rooney has been converted into something of a trequartista this season, dropping in just behind van Persie, pulling the strings between midfield and the frontman. He’s bagged himself just 3 goals from what are effectively attacking midfield areas.
Not quite as impressive as some of his previous tallies – 34 last season, and in 2009/10.
Javier Hernandez is earning himself a reputation as a ‘super sub’ in the model of Solskjaer. Solskjaer scored 16 goals from the bench in United’s treble winning campaign, whilst Chicharito has notched up 8 goals from 13 appearances, having started just one Premier League game.
Danny Welbeck might not be quite the same calibre of Sheringham just yet. The similarities in nationality aside, they are very different players in terms of how they read and play the game.
Sheringham’s infamous lack of pace never stopped him finding the back of the net but he was the outsider of the four-set without doubt. Welbeck has linked well with Rooney and United teammate Tom Cleverley for his country – he’s made 9 appearances for England this year and scored 4 goals as a return.
For United, he’s only managed one goal this season from 11 appearances and looks likely to play a bit-part for them, provided van Persie and Rooney stay fit. But as Ferguson tackles 3 competitions (having exited the Capital One Cup) Welbeck will most definitely get his chance to shine. And his partnership with Rooney will stand him in good stead for his future with the national team.
Are United’s current strikers on a par with their treble winners? I wouldn’t put money on them winning the treble this season but if asked to choose between the 1998/99 and the 2012/13 quartets, there wouldn’t be much in it. In fact, I’d be inclined to suggest the latter might just be a little bit better – in terms of quality.
But, to me Rooney and van Persie will take some time to gel together as a partnership before they present anything like the force of Cole and Yorke in their prime.
Can United's 2012 strike force better 1999? How does it compare?