Andy Cole in the Manchester United dressing room.

Countdown to 2018/19: Cole's verdict on our rivals

Wednesday 13 June 2018 07:00

Manchester United legend Andy Cole has run the rule over our top-four rivals in the Premier League, as we await the announcement of the 2018/19 fixtures on Thursday morning at 09:00 BST.

The prolific marksman, who scored 121 times for the Reds, appreciates it will be a tough battle to reach the summit in 2018/19. 

While London clubs Chelsea (“they will always do well”) and Arsenal (“a strong team in my era who are starting life without Arsene Wenger") are more than capable of mounting a challenge for the main honours, Cole has the most admiration for the other teams who finished in the top four with United last term.

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”Manchester City are the team to catch,” Cole told us. “They are definitely the team to catch. To run away with the league, as they did last season, means everybody has to try to close the gap on them. They’re going to improve in the summer by bringing in more players and the way they play football, take nothing away from them, was absolutely eye catching. Whoever gets close to them next season has a good chance of winning the league.

”I remember a few tussles at the old stadium, Maine Road. I do remember those games went off a few times as well, which you would probably expect in derbies. They were always good games though.”

The 5-3 win at Tottenham in 2001 is one of Andy Cole's fondest memories.

Tottenham finished in third spot last season and, with their move to a new stadium helping fuel their bid for glory, it is anticipated Mauricio Pochettino’s enterprising side will be difficult to beat.

“They’re an improving team and I like the way Pochettino has them playing,” he said. “I like the youthful enthusiasm they have in the team. Next season is a massive one for Spurs as, at some stage, they have to win something.”

Cole went for the amazing comeback at White Hart Lane in 2001 as his favourite memory against Tottenham, ahead of his goal at Old Trafford in 1999 that clinched the Premier League title. “To go 3-0 down and we came in at half-time and I remember the manager [Sir Alex Ferguson] not saying a word for 15 minutes. Then, once the bell went, he said: ‘Okay, you’d better go out there and win the game’.

“We did that and it’s one of my favourite games. People remember me for the goal in 1999 but the 5-3 was fantastic, to come back from 3-0 down. I know everyone talks about my goal in 1999, when I was fortunate enough to get the winner at home to Tottenham but the 5-3 was special. I’m not saying the 1999 one wasn’t special but I’m fortunate enough to have experienced both of them.”

Deadly striker Andy Cole always enjoyed scoring against Liverpool.
Liverpool ended the campaign in fourth spot before beating beaten by Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Jurgen Klopp is strengthening his squad and the Merseysiders believe they can sustain a bid for a first championship since 1990.

“They’re another improving team,” added Cole. “Klopp has done a fantastic job there and I like the way they play football. They remind me a bit of the team I played in here. The manager used to say give it to the centre-forwards and let them cause havoc and, watching Liverpool, there’s pace, power and they score goals.

”I played against Liverpool many times and Anfield was one of my favourite hunting grounds because I knew what it meant to me and my team-mates, as well as the fans. They are very good memories.”

Andy Cole was attending Manchester United Foundation's Unified Football World Cup at the Aon Training Complex. Unified Football celebrates disabled and non-disabled participants and offers the opportunity to play on a level playing field.

The event involved participants from the Foundation's partner schools and Inclusive Reds programme, which offers those with disabilities the chance to play and coach football.

Andy Cole at the Aon Training Complex on Monday afternoon.