Who Is the Greatest Striker in Manchester United History?

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentOctober 5, 2013

Who Is the Greatest Striker in Manchester United History?

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    Picking Manchester's best centre forward is a thankless task.

    So many wonderful strikers have graced Old Trafford that it's hard enough to narrow it down to 10 or 20, let alone five.

    Some have become cult heroes, like Eric Cantona and Denis Law. 

    Others scored goals by the bagful, like Ruud van Nistelrooy.

    Some of United's greatest goalscorers weren't strikers at all. 

    Bobby Charlton, George Best, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes all sit in the top 10 on the all-time list, but weren't considered here because they're not out-and-out strikers. The same goes for Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Weight was given to the number of goals scored, the importance of their goals and the silverware they won.

    Remember, there was only room for five, therefore some wonderful goalscorers like van Nistelrooy, Mark Hughes, Jack Rowley, Dennis Viollet, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie just missed out.

    All are rightfully part of the debate.

    Not everyone will agree with the list of five chosen here—that's why it's such an intriguing topic—but feel free to use the comments section below to list your own top five.

    And then expect pelters from everyone else for getting it wrong!

No. 5: Dwight Yorke and Andrew Cole

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    In at No. 5 on the list is a duo because of how destructive the partnership could be when it was in full flow.

    Andrew Cole moved to United from Newcastle in January 1995 in a record deal worth £7 million.

    He had already won the Premier League twice and the FA Cup before Dwight Yorke moved from Aston Villa for £12.6 million in the summer of 1998.

    At first, there were question marks over whether the pair could play together and the first time it was tested, United drew a blank in a goalless draw at West Ham.

    They didn't get another go together until early October when they both scored in a 3-0 win at Southampton

    By the end of their first season together, they had scored 53 goals between them and won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in an historic treble.

    Together, they scored 186 goals in 422 games before both departed for Blackburn, Cole in 2001 and Yorke in 2002.

No. 4: Tommy Taylor

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    Tommy Taylor was signed from Barnsley in 1953 for £29,999—a strategic number by Matt Busby because he didn't want the strapping Yorkshireman to have the added pressure of being the first £30,000 player.

    In less than five years as a United player, Taylor scored 131 goals in 191 games, winning the First Division Champions twice, in 1956 and 1957.

    His international record was just as impressive, scoring 16 goals in just 19 caps.

    He was only 26 when he was killed in the 1958 Munich Air Disaster. 

    He could have gone on to become United's record goalscorer if his life had not been tragically cut short during the peak years of his career.

No. 3: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored 126 goals in 366 games, but he only needed one to guarantee himself a place in United history.

    He arrived at Old Trafford from Molde for just £1.5 million in 1996. 

    But if he was unknown before he signed, he took just six minutes on his debut to make a name for himself by scoring against Blackburn.

    He was never a regular starter during his 11 years at United, but he made a name for himself as a super sub.

    In February 1999, he came off the bench to score four goals in 12 minutes against Nottingham Forest, but it was in the Camp Nou later that season where he enjoyed his finest moment.

    Thrown on with nine minutes to go in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich with United down 1-0, Solskjaer was a European champion by the time the final whistle blew. 

    No United fan needs reminding of Solskjaer's part in that most dramatic of finales.

    He might have achieved even more if knee injuries hadn't blighted his later years.

No. 2: Eric Cantona

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    United's recent history might look a lot different if Sir Alex Ferguson had not managed to prise Eric Cantona away from Leeds for a bargain £1.2 million in 1992.

    United hadn't won the league title for 26 years before Cantona strolled through the door at Old Trafford, his collar upturned.

    By the time he announced his shock retirement five years later, he had helped the club win the Premier League title four times, including two doubles. 

    The only blip on his record was in 1995, when he was serving a ban for his kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan at Selhurst Park.

    The Frenchman scored 82 goals in 185 games in a United shirt. 

    He also had a habit of scoring important goals, including a late winner against Liverpool in the 1996 FA Cup final to seal a second double in three years.

No. 1: Denis Law

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    There are few players who could score for Manchester City against United to effectively confirm their relegation into Division Two and still have their name sung at Old Trafford nearly 40 years later.

    But most players aren't Denis Law.

    The Scottish striker scored 237 goals in 404 games at Old Trafford, where he formed part of the Holy Trinity with Bobby Charlton and George Best.

    A statue of the trio stands outside the grounds.

    Law won the title twice with United, in 1965 and 1967, and would have played in the 1968 European Cup final had he not been ruled out with a knee injury. 

    He was also named European Footballer of the Year in 1964.

    His back-heeled goal for City against United at Old Trafford in 1974 hasn't done anything to diminish his popularity with the Stretford End, who continue to sing about him as "The King" along with Cantona.

    That he walked off the pitch in a state of disbelief after scoring that goal for City perhaps adds something to his charm for United fans.