Four years earlier the striker had swapped the north-east for the north-west when United paid Newcastle £7m for his services, with winger Keith Gillespie leaving Old Trafford to join the Magpies as part of the deal. The move did not go down well on Tyneside, where Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan famously tried to placate some disgruntled fans on the steps of St James Park.
The reason for their ire was Cole’s outstanding goalscoring record – 55 in 70 league appearances since joining from Bristol City – and the striker proved worthy of his move up the footballing ladder after moving to the Reds, finding the net 12 times in 17 outings during what remained of the 1994/95 season.
Cole demonstrated his predatory instincts to good effect in the win over the Hammers. His first was classic goal-poaching, seizing on the rebound from a Nicky Butt shot that hit the post; for the second strike, the former Arsenal trainee rolled the ball past Shaka Hislop after he was found by Dwight Yorke’s cute pass. The Trinidadian, who struck up a fine bond with Cole, had earlier opened the scoring himself. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rounded off the victory with United's fourth goal after making a late entrance as substitute.
United v West Ham 10/1/99: Van der Gouw, Irwin, Berg, Stam, Brown (Johnsen 77), Blomqvist, Keane (Cruyff 84), Butt (Solskjaer 77), Giggs, Yorke, Cole. Subs not used: Culkin, Beckham.