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Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole: What made Manchester United strike partnership so special?

Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke scored 53 goals between them in all competitions during the 1998/99 season; vote below for best Premier League strike partnership

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On MNF Retro Gary Neville discussed the various strike partnerships he played with over the years at Manchester United and who he felt were the best.

Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole defined an entire era of dominance for Manchester United, as Gary Neville recalled on MNF Retro...

The club's treble win during the 1998/99 season shines bright as the standout success of Sir Alex Ferguson's reign at Old Trafford, but that campaign could have panned out very differently.

That summer, AC Milan striker Patrick Kluivert was heavily linked as Ferguson looked to respond to Arsenal's double-winning season.

It was not until October 1998 when the Scot's hand was forced during a Premier League encounter against Southampton. Teddy Sheringham or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were both deemed not fit enough to start.

Cole and Yorke subsequently both scored in a 3-0 win. The rest, as they say, is history...

'They lit up the whole league, they lit up Europe'

Image: The pair celebrate Champions League success in the treble-winning campaign

Gary Neville told MNF Retro: "When I first came into the Manchester United team, it was Eric Cantona and Mark Hughes, and during this period it was Yorke and Cole, with Teddy [Sheringham] and Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] as well as strike partners.

"Then it went onto Ruud [van Nistelrooy] who played sometimes with Scholesy [Paul Scholes] and sometimes with one of the other lads I just mentioned.

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"Then it went on to Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney, who were absolutely sensational as well.

Barcelona 3-3 Man Utd - Champions League group stage, Nov 25 1998

Barcelona: Hesp, Reiziger, Barjuan, Okunowo, Xavi, Zenden, Celades, Anderson, Rivaldo, Figo, Giovanni.

Subs: None used.

Goals: Anderson (1), Rivaldo (57, 73).

Manchester United: Schmeichel, Brown, Stam, Neville, Irwin, Beckham, Scholes, Keane, Blomqvist, Cole, Yorke.

Subs: Butt for Beckham (80).

Goals: Yorke (25, 68), Cole (53).

"I would probably say Yorke and Cole, just for that Treble season where they were absolutely sensational, the way they would play together. They lit up the whole league, they lit up Europe.

"I always remember a group stage game in the Champions League in Barcelona when the two played together. I've never seen anything like it.

"We conceded three goals, I was centre-back, but we scored three. Those two that night were absolutely brilliant."

'Cole was the most difficult to play against'

Image: Yorke scored 18 in 32 league starts, while Cole scored 17 in just 26 during 1998/99

Jamie Carragher enjoyed several battles down the years with both Yorke and Cole during his time at Liverpool.

Yorke scored twice against the Reds during the 1998/99 season while the Sky Sports pundit was featuring for Gerard Houllier's side.

When asked who he found harder to defend against, Carragher told MNF Retro: "I always felt Andy Cole was the most difficult to play against. Dwight Yorke I felt was the best player.

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Roy Keane joins the Monday Night Football team to reflect on his role at Manchester United during the 2000-2001 season

"In terms of which player caused me more problems, Yorke was always in front of me, whereas Cole was always looking to run in behind. You could never relax in the game.

"They had a brilliant partnership."

When Yorke signed for United from Aston Villa in the summer of 1998, Sir Alex Ferguson already had Cole, Sheringham and Solskjaer on his books - but he was keen to sign a different type of centre-forward.

John Gregory had no intention of selling the Trinidad & Tobago international and after being told that his star man wanted to head for Old Trafford, the Villa boss is famously quoted as saying: "If I had a gun, I would have shot him."

Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole formed a formidable strike partnership at Manchester United
Image: Yorke and Cole formed a formidable strike partnership at United

So what were United's reasons for paying a club-record fee of £12.6m to convince Villa to sell their main asset?

"When Yorkey signed, it was late on in the transfer window," Neville added. "The season had already started, and it was a surprise in some ways. It came out of nowhere.

"Obviously, we knew Dwight Yorke from Aston Villa and he was a good player. You just didn't think he was the one that was coming to United. What we didn't realise was just how good he was.

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Highlights of Manchester United's 6-1 rout of Arsenal in February 2001

"I don't know what the plan was, because I don't think him and Cole really hit it off to start with. It took maybe 10 or 15 games for them to get together, and then all of a sudden [it changed]."

In January 1999, Yorke's hat-trick and Cole's double helped United to a 6-2 win over Leicester at Filbert Street. Neville views the encounter as a turning point in the partnership.

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Andy Cole speaks about his famous partnership with Dwight Yorke and how they helped Manchester United to a famous treble in 1999.

"That game sticks in my mind," he said. "It was a league game where they both played together and something just happened that day. They starting socialising together and started getting on with each other off the pitch.

"There was a respect between each other. The thing about those two, they didn't mind which of them scored which is quite unique sometimes. Cole was a goalscorer, and you often find they need to score in order to be happy.

"But they got to the point when they didn't care if either of them scored, they'd both be happy with each other."

Are Yorke and Cole the Premier League's best ever partnership?

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