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Best Manchester United forwards of all time

Thursday03 December 2020 | 6:30
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Who are the best strikers in Manchester United history? Follow us below as we take a brief look at some of the most prolific and beloved poachers who have played for the Red Devils.

When it comes to tradition and history in the world of football, few clubs could reach the level at which

Manchester United

are. Anyone who watches football surely knows about the Red Devils, even if they do not know about its history in a more detailed manner. As one of the best teams in the Premier League, the English club have won the prestigious trophy a record 20 times, which truly shows the class that they have had since the beginning.

While their time under the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson was considered to be the golden era of Man United, they are still considered to be a formidable side in both the Premier League and the

Champions League

. Overall, United have won a total of 66 trophies including, but not limited to 3 UCL titles, 12 FA Cups, 5 EFL Cups and 21 Community Shields, while the total number itself amusingly suits their “Red Devils” nickname.

Reaching such a status and being considered as one of the best and richest clubs in the world does not come easy, as a club must sign some of the best and most talented players in the world to compete with the most elite every year. That is exactly what the Red Devils have done, as we have seen some of the

all-time best Manchester United forwards

help their team win crucial matches and grab numerous trophies over the years.

Of course a club with such a rich history would have many brilliant talents on its yearbooks, which is why each person could have their own picks for the top-10 best

Manchester United

strikers ever. But there are some of those strikers who might have quite a special place in the hearts of the United supporters, as they have created some of the most memorable moments for the world to see. Here are some of best forwards in Manchester United history, who will be remembered by the club’s fans for years to come.

All-time best Manchester United forwards

Here is a list of the iconic players at whose careers we are going to take a brief look.

  • Dwight Yorke

  • Andy Cole

  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

  • Eric Cantona

  • Dennis Viollet

  • Mark Hughes

  • Ruud van Nistelrooy

  • Denis Law

  • George Best

  • Wayne Rooney

Not only are these forwards some of the best ever Manchester United strikers to have graced the pitch, but they are also some of the best strikers the whole world has ever seen. Let us have a look at their lives and the beautiful football that they brought to us all.

Dwight Yorke

  • 1998-2002

  • Goals: 65

If you have been a fan of Manchester United, or in general a fan of football since the 90s, the name Dwight Yorke will definitely ring a bell, as he was the record holder for the highest goals scored in the Premier League as a non-European, before

Sergio Aguero

came along. Yorke, 49, is a former Trinidad and Tobago international, who started his career at Aston Villa and spent almost nine years with the club before forcing his way out to join Sir Alex Ferguson’s side for a reported fee of €19 million.

While quite a lethal goal-scorer at

Aston Villa

, Yorke is still fondly remembered as one of the

all-time best Manchester United strikers

since he helped the Red Devils to a historic treble in his very first season. Not only did the Trinidad and Tobago center-forward help his team to a treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, he also managed to contribute with lots of goals towards winning three consecutive League titles.

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With 18 goals in the Premier League and 8 goals in the Champions League in the 1998/99 season, He actually got to be the top scorer at both competitions in the same year. Dwight Yorke is undoubtedly one of the

best Manchester United forwards of all time

, as overall he managed to score 65 goals and provide 29 assists in 156 appearances, which not only brought home three consecutive PL titles, it also helped United win the famed UEFA Champions League for the first time after its revision.

Andy Cole

  • 1995-2001

  • Goals: 121

While originally an

Arsenal

academy graduate, Andy Cole played for quite a number of English teams during his career, most notably playing for Manchester United, Blackburn, Fulham and Manchester City. Of course it’s not the quantity that counts, but it is the quality of the team and the player which creates unforgettable memories in the minds of the club’s supporters and the viewers from all around the world.

Andy Cole is considered by many to be one of the

best strikers in Manchester United history

, as he was in fact successful in bringing quality to the game during his time at Old Trafford. It is no surprise that the club actually paid a British record transfer fee to bring in the Englishman to their side, as Cole moved to the city of Manchester from

Newcastle

for almost €10 million.

As one of the best Manchester United forwards of all time, Andy Cole helped his team to an unbelievable tally of five Premier League titles in six years from 1995 to 2001, while also winning the Champions League alongside Dwight Yorke in the 1998/99 season. Of course it is not only based on the trophies a player has won with the club that we have chosen the all-time best Manchester United strikers, as Andy Cole was quite an impressive and lethal center-forward during his prime as well.

He managed to score an outstanding 121 goals and provide 44 assists in 274 appearances across all competitions. After joining

Blackburn

for €12 million in 2002, the Englishman went on to play for numerous other clubs as well, before finally hanging up his boots during his spell at Nottingham Forest in 2009.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

  • 1996-2007

  • Goals: 127

The Norwegian was lauded as a “super-sub” during his years at United. While some of the very young fans of the club know him as the man at the wheel, many others remember him as one of the

best Manchester United forwards of all time

, who helped his side to many victories, winning numerous trophies during his time at the Theater of Dreams. The 47-year-old Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might be in charge of a relatively less successful side at United, but his spell at the club as a player is certainly one to remember.

The 1996

Norway

Player of the Year award winner, won six Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups, 1 Champions League trophy, 4 Community (Charity) Shields and an Intercontinental Cup in almost 11 years with the Red Devils, during which he went on to make a total of 365 appearances, scoring 127 goals and providing 55 assists during those appearances, many of which proved to be quite crucial for his team. Such stats are clearly enough to praise the Norwegian as one of the best ever Manchester United forwards.

The 179 cm striker hung up his boots more than a decade ago and is currently managing the team with which he spent almost all of his career. Since taking charge as the manager and as one of the retired best Manchester United forwards of all time, Solskjaer has managed his team in 105 games, winning 60 of those games, while drawing 20 and losing 25 times during his spell as manager.

Eric Cantona

  • 1992-1997

  • Goals: 81

Eric Cantona is known not only for being one of the

best Manchester United forwards of all time

, but also a successful actor, producer and even director, which is a career path many of today’s superstars such as

Real Madrid

legend and current Juventus striker,

Cristiano Ronaldo

are planning on someday pursuing.

Cantona made his senior debut with the French club, AJ Auxerre all the way back in 1983. Of course he did not enter the world of football as a striker, as he had originally followed his father’s footsteps to become a goalkeeper. Thankfully though, he finally came to his senses as he played more and more games on the frontlines in time.

Many in the world of football might remember the French striker for his infamous “Kung-Fu kick” incident in 1995, which resulted in a controversial season-long ban for Cantona, as he was not even allowed to play in the United’s friendly matches. These dramatic months were so intense that it him finally ask for his contract to be terminated as he did not wish to play football in England anymore.

For those of you who may have missed these days, The French forward assaulted a Blackburn Rovers fan after he allegedly cursed and shouted at the player. He kicked and threw several punches at the fan, which caused many people to demand a life-time ban from football for Cantona.

Even with these controversies and dramatic moments, he is still considered to be one the

best ever Manchester United strikers

, as he went on to score 81 goals and provide 61 assists in 180 appearances since he joined the Red Devils in 1992 and finally retired in 1997, winning 4 Premier League titles, 5 Charity Shields and 2 FA Cups with the club.

Dennis Viollet

  • 1952-1962

  • Goals: 178

The 1958 Munich Air Disaster was one of the worst disaster in the history of both the club and the whole world, as the lives of many of the footballing greats were lost that day. Dennis Viollet was one of the Busby Babes who survived the incident, going on to become one of the best Manchester United forwards of all time.

After surviving the plane crash, Viollet managed to keep the hopes up for United fans as he put on an impressive performance and scored a club record 32 goals in 36 games in the 1959-60 season, which earned him the only two international caps in his career for England. Overall, as one of

Manchester United best forwards ever

, the Englishman went on to make 294 appearances for the club, scoring an outstanding 178 goals in the process.

Surprisingly, however, Dennis Viollet was sold to the Football League Second Division side,

Stoke City

, in the 1991-92 season, where he also got to shine and help his team reach the First Division two seasons after his move. Not only was he one of the best Manchester United forwards of all time, he was also one of the best strikers in the history of football, who unfortunately lost his battle against Cancer in 1999, two years after being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1997.

Mark Hughes

  • 1983-1986/1989-1995

  • Goals: 94

Next on our list of best Manchester United strikers ever, is the Welsh footballer, Mark Hughes, who played for the Red Devils on two separate spells. While the first time around was not quite as successful as he might have wanted it to be, after his return from Barcelona, the Welshman quickly made it into the first team to join the club’s main strikers in the front.

Hughes could be considered as one of

Manchester United

best forwards ever even solely based on the number of appearances he made during his time with the English club, as playing in more than 260 games for a club such as Man United, is a clear sign of a player’s high quality. But the number of appearances is not the only stats that makes Hughes one of the best Manchester United forwards of all time, as he also managed to score an impressive 94 goals, while providing 17 assists in those games, winning numerous trophies, including 2 PL titles.

Ruud van Nistelrooy

  • 2001-2006

  • Goals: 150

Ruud van Nistelrooy is one of those classic Dutch players, who is not only considered to be one of the

best Manchester United forwards ever

, but he is also one of the best forwards the world has ever seen, who went on to score a phenomenal 327 goals in the 517 games that he played for various clubs such as

PSV Eindhoven

, Real Madrid, Hamburger SV,

Malaga

and of course Manchester United.

Even though he has won relatively fewer trophies than some of the mentioned strikers, he was still able to fill his trophy cabinet during his time with the Red Devils and the Whites of Madrid. While he did go on to play in the Spanish capital, it is his time in England that is most fondly remembered by football fans, as he got to score almost half of his career goals under Sir Alex Ferguson.

He actually managed to score an unbelievable 150 goals in 219 games, providing a further 15 assists, as he proved himself to be one of the best Manchester United forwards of all time. The Dutchman later retired in 2012 after spending a single season with Malaga.

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Denis Law

  • 1962-1973

  • Goals: 237

As part of the United Trinity of Bobby Charlton, George Best and himself, whose statues are even put at the Old Trafford for everyone to see and admire, it is no surprise to see such an important player on the list of

best ever Manchester United forwards

. Long before the era of

Lionel Messi

and Cristiano Ronaldo, and even before the era of Zidane and Ronaldinho, it was Denis Law, who managed to win the 1964 Ballon d’Or award in his prime, which was one of the golden ages of United as well.

His outstanding overall performance as a Ballon d’Or winner is certainly a motivating story to tell to the younger generations, as Law went on to make a total of 404 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring an astonishing 237 goals in the process, thanks to his goal-scoring talents as a clearly lethal striker.

George Best

  • 1963-1975

  • Goals: 179

It is literally in his name. George Best was truly one of the

best forwards in Manchester United history

, as he too was a part of the United Trinity which marks a golden era of football for all United fans and of course the club. The Irish footballer was born in Norther Ireland in 1946, and did in fact move quite a lot during his playing days. But he is and always will be remembered by his memorable goals and brilliant performances for Manchester United during the almost 12 years that he appeared for the Red Devils.

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While he got to play for other British clubs such as

Fulham

and

Bournemouth

, it was during his long spell at United, that he got to make more than 450 appearances, scoring an impressive 179 goals in the process, which just as his name suggests, it makes him one of the “Best” goal-scorers of his time.

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Wayne Rooney

  • 2004-2017

  • Goals: 253

You cannot have a list of best Manchester United forwards ever and not include the club’s all-time top goal-scorer. Of course not only is Wayne Rooney Man United’s all-time top scorer, but he is incredibly England’s all-time top scorer as well, surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 goals with his 53 goal tally. He did get to dominate the Premier League under Sir Alex Ferguson in their golden age of football, which saw the team win the league five times in seven years, with the first three coming in succession.

The Premier League title was not the only trophy that

Wayne Rooney

won with United, as they went on to win several other trophies as well, including 4 English League Cups, 1 FA Cup, 4 Community Shields, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, 1 Europa League long after Ferguson’s retirement, and most notably their third Champions League trophy in 2008.

Now one might ask how many goals has such a club’s all-time top scorer actually bagged during his career? The

England

international did in fact manage to score an extraordinary 253 goals and provide a phenomenal 146 assists in a total of 559 appearances across all competitions.

These were only some of the best strikers in the history of Manchester United, and we could not list all of our favorites, since there were too great players to talk about. Of course history does not end here, and young talents from across the UK and from all over world are dreaming of and putting all their efforts to someday play at Old Trafford, for Old Trafford, and maybe become the next best striker in the history of Manchester United.

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