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Cole and Yorke

Cole & Yorke

Supplied by Kohler

Manchester United’s Cole & Yorke: “This team needs help”

interviewManchester United legends Andrew Cole and Dwight Yorke share their opinions on the current squad, post-retirement and Sir Alex Ferguson’s wisdom.

At a recent event to unveil Manchester United sponsor, Kohler’s latest line of plumbing products, former strike duo Andrew Cole and Dwight Yorke gave their verdict on the state of the current squad.

Andrew Cole and Dwight Yorke formed one of the deadliest strike partnerships that European football has ever seen. In their pomp, the pair terrorised defences for Manchester United. They had a unique, almost telepathic way of working in tandem to create and take goal scoring chances.

They also had the honour of playing Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering treble-winning side from the 98/99 season. So it’s fair to say that when they have an opinion on the state of the current squad, we should all take notice. And that’s exactly what we did.

As ambassadors for the club, Cole and Yorke were in Dubai thanks to Manchester United principal partner, Kohler. EDGAR got the chance to sit down with the pair and quiz them about all things football, how their old team-mate Solskjaer is doing as manager and much more.

Andrew Cole Manchester United

1

manutd.com Cole flying high for Manchester United

Andrew Cole

Q.

What’s your career highlight?

A.

It’s definitely not retiring, put it that way! Naturally, I’ve got to say what we achieved in ’99 (Manchester United won the EPL, FA Cup and Champions League). When you start your career you never know where you’re going to end up by the time you retire. So to complete that was phenomenal.

Q.

Is it every professional footballer’s dream to scoop the treble then?

A.

Never mind the Treble, I think it’s just to play at the highest level and win major honours. Nobody sets out to win the Treble as it seems impossible, but you just never know. All you need is that little bit of luck. Look at Man City – it didn’t happen for them. They had the possibility of the first Quadruple if they’d overcome Tottenham. But saying that, the league’s not over yet or the FA Cup.

Q.

Who do you think will win the league this season?

A.

I think Manchester City will win it by a point. I just can’t see them losing their last games. For them it’s an easy run-in – Burnley, Leicester City and Brighton. I was hoping that we [Manchester United] could’ve won at home in the derby against City [lost 0-2].

Q.

What was it like playing in the Manchester derby?

A.

For me, I enjoyed them. I never lost one, which made things even better. But see, this wasn’t the biggest derby for us. The Liverpool game was always the biggest.

Q.

Do you have any regrets about your career?

A.

No, not from my playing days. If I didn’t do it the way I did it then, I wouldn’t be sitting here as an ambassador for the club now. But the one thing that I do look back on is that I might’ve made a hasty decision in leaving Manchester United when I did. I could’ve stayed for many years after. That’s about it. Otherwise, the way I played and the way I went about my business, I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Q.

Have you ever fancied following your old team mate, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into management?

A.

No, never fancied management or coaching. It’s never been my bag. Management is very, very stressful. Even more so the level that Solskjaer is managing at now. You work with quality players, vast amounts of money – you’ve got to produce the goods season after season. From the outside looking in on all that, I think nah, that’s not for me.

Q.

You never even considered it then?

A.

No. I always made the decision that it wasn’t going to be for me when I retired. I could’ve gone in a couple of days a week and dipped my toes into management, but… nah, it’s hard work.

Cole: “There's too much change. Moyes, Van Gaal, Mourinho and now Ole means more change. Come on!”

Q.

Do you keep in touch with Ole?

A.

I was in [United’s Aon training complex] a few months ago, and popped in to see him. I haven’t had the opportunity to go back again yet, even though I keep saying I will. But now he has the United job full-time, I’ll get back there to see him soon.

Q.

What do you think he offers as a manager?

A.

Well, it’s early doors. But the quality he’s offered since he arrived is that he’s got everyone back onside. He’s taken the squad away from Old Trafford and the Aon training complex and he’s doing his thing. I like that little move [taking them to the old training facility The Cliff, Salford]. We used to play there and we knew how difficult it was to come from there and move on.

Q.

What do you make of the current United squad? What do you think’s going wrong?

A.

They’ve not been good enough. You have to be honest. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that they are, because if they were they’d be competing for major honours. To compete you have to buy better players, you have to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool. And that gets harder every season you’re not competing at the top level. And now you’re battling to sign the players that both of those teams are trying to sign, and while they’re winning things, it’s easier for them to get their men. Manchester United need to get themselves back up there and that’s going to take time.

Q.

Can United do this by promoting youth to the first team like back in your day?

A.

I think it’s more difficult at the moment. You might get the odd one or two, but you see, when you’re trying to get back to winning things, you don’t have as much time to wait for kids. We’re Manchester United and we need the success now. To get that, you need to dig deep and pay the big money and entice them to come. You might have to give them a few more quid, and the transfer fee will be higher because of who we are. And then you have to hope that when they arrive that things work out – play to the best of their capabilities. It’s kind of a vicious circle that United find themselves in right now.

Q.

Do you think they’re far from competing again then?

A.

Yeah, I’m not going to sit here and say otherwise. If you look at the gap between Manchester United versus City or Liverpool, it’s a big, big gap. And that will only grow unless you can close it. We’ve had what, four managers? Moyes, van Gaal, Mourinho and now Ole in five to six years.

Q.

So do you think the fact Ole now has three other manager’s signings in the squad causes a problem?

A.

It could be a problem. For me though, and I keep saying this, but when you go to a football club – like Barcelona or Real Madrid – you have a set way to play. When Barca change their manager they go in there and they have to play exactly the same way as Barca usually play and it pays off. Manchester United have had managers that have come in and implemented change. Moyes change. Van Gaal change. Mourinho change. And now Ole, more change. Come on! If you’re going to take over a big institution… look at Apple as an example. Steve Jobs isn’t there anymore, but do you think they’re going to go ‘OK, the next guy in – we’re going to do it your way’ – you can’t do that. It’s been built a certain way.

Q.

Finally, what would you say is the biggest influence Sir Alex Ferguson had on your career?

A.

He’s a leader of men, and he’s always got time for you. I just loved the way he dealt with me because he was the only manager that understood me as a footballer throughout my entire career. That’s massive. If anyone can understand me, they’ve done well! He’s top drawer.

Dwight Yorke - Manchester United

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manutd.com Yorke on the day he signed for Manchester United

dwight yorke

Q.

Did you feel like you were ready to leave Old Trafford when you did?

A.

No. I felt there was some unfinished business. I didn’t help the situation sometimes. You never feel like you’re ready to leave United because from then on you’re on a downer. But do I have any regrets? No. Did I make mistakes? Yes I have. These things made me the person I am today. We all make mistakes, but I’ve learned from mine.

Q.

How has post-retirement been for you?

A.

My life is great! I am blessed. I was given the chance to fulfil my dreams and beyond. People say they miss the dressing room and the camaraderie – but I don’t miss any of that…

Q.

Really? That’s surprising…

A.

Well, I had the best time. I had the most amazing time at Manchester United. I played with a smile. I entertained. We won some, we lost some, and grabbed a load of trophies along the way. I have no regrets about that at all. Amazing times.

Q.

What’s next for you?

A.

I want to get into management. Football is always going to be a part of me, so getting into management is something I’m going to do.

Q.

Do you have something lined up?

A.

Yes. Watch this space as something is about to happen!

Q.

Were you ever affected by a team mate’s departure from your club?

A.

Not really. The happiest time in anyone’s career is when you’re playing. You’re doing something you enjoy and you’re getting paid for it. The only unhappy moments come from when you’re not playing. You accept that people come and go, but you try to stay in touch. If you have a good relationship with people, you tend to keep in touch with them. Moving on is all part and parcel of our sport. Some people are able to deal with it, some are not. I’m one of those that just get on with it. You might get some sense of disappointment, but that’s the sport. Honestly, I really don’t miss the sport. I really don’t. People talk about the money side of things now – but we were earning good money then. Would I give up what we won in the game for that [more money]? No. Even if you offered me a zillion dollars I never would. People will always talk about the team that I was part of and I’d rather that than anything else.

Yorke: “You never feel like you’re ready to leave United because from then on you’re on a downer.”

Q.

What do you think the current United squad need?

A.

They need a lot of help. These guys – I don’t know what it is – but they have everything and they’re at the biggest club in the world. I just don’t understand how you can pull on that shirt and go out there and not deliver. I think it’s the consistency of the team – we all have good and bad days, but there are too many bad ones at the moment. They’ve got to limit these at some stage. You’re obviously still going to lose football matches, but even then several players can rally the team. But now when one is having a bad day, it looks like they’re all suffering. You can see it on the pitch, if two of them aren’t playing well, then the whole team seems to follow them.

Q.

So from a coaching perspective, what can you see that’s not working for United on the pitch?

A.

You need to have desire to play and win football matches, and everybody has to be on the same wavelength. It’s the job of the manager to instil that fight and winning spirit into his team. You can have talent, but that’s just one thing. If you don’t have the will to win, to run, to sweat or to shed some blood for those results it’s over. Everybody is gunning for Manchester United so there are no easy games. You play for United and it’s a like a cup final every match, because lesser teams really want to beat you. I remember being on the opposite side of this and playing against United. You always raise your game as this is the team you want to beat. So you have to be ready because those other sides will be looking to run right through you. Sure, your qualities are far superior to them, but you have to match them with other stuff. But when you do this your other qualities will come through, but I don’t think these guys are doing enough of that right now. And I lived it, so I can explain it to them a little bit better – and this would be my line of attack if I were the manager.

Q.

Who’s the most underrated player you’ve ever played alongside?

A.

Becks [David Beckham]. I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he did. He made me a lot of goals because he’s the best deliverer of a football I’ve ever seen. He’s top drawer.

Q.

Finally, what’s your lasting memory of playing under Sir Alex Ferguson?

A.

I feel like I can look back and reflect that I can see why he was such a great manager. He wanted the best for his players and by saying that he wanted you to be focused and take what was in front of you as an everlasting moment. Moments that told you it was ‘your time’ – he encouraged us to do our best with this in mind. He always wanted us to do this because when the day was at an end and you retire, you go out with no regrets. And I think this was most touching. On top of this, when I left the football club he said to me ‘you may think this is the end, but the door is always open, and you’re always welcome back here’. For me, that was incredible.

END OF INTERVIEW

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