It's trophies that count: Cole

Averaging more than a goal per game together, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are wreaking havoc on defences across the English Premier League this season.

It has led Manchester United manager David Moyes to proclaim the pairing as the best in England - and one that will soon match any strike force in world football.

But the Red Devils' former star striker Andy Cole has called for perspective, noting that the partnership should be judged only on the trophies they deliver.

"If Robin gets 30 goals and Wayne gets 20, but the team end up finishing third, it's pointless," the former England international, 42, told The Straits Times on Tuesday.

"They're playing very well now, but only time will tell how effective this partnership is."

Cole knows a thing or two about finding the net, forming an irresistible partnership with Dwight Yorke which United aficionados still widely regard as the club's greatest strike tandem.

Indeed, the duo's goals helped United snare three league titles, one FA Cup, one European Cup and one Club World Cup in the late 1990s.

It is something that Rooney and van Persie would have to at least match, even as United's current strike duo had already delivered a league title last season - a record 20th for the club.

Cole, who was in Singapore for a promotional event on Tuesday, believes his pairing with Yorke was more "balanced".

During the historic Treble season of 1999, he and his Trinidad and Tobago team-mate bagged 24 and 29 goals respectively across all competitions.

Last season, van Persie settled in quickly after his controversial move from Arsenal to score 30 times for the Red Devils - nearly double Rooney's output of 16.

"Robin got virtually all the goals last season while Wayne played in a deeper role," said Cole, who also featured for Manchester City, Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers among others during a 19-year career.

"This season, the goals are more spread out, which is how a true strike partnership should be."

In nine league games so far, Rooney has notched five goals, one fewer than van Persie. Their burgeoning form has seen Moyes' men recover from their worst start in 24 years to go on a seven-match unbeaten streak.

Currently in eighth spot and trailing leaders Arsenal by eight points, United's title credentials will be tested on Sunday when the red-hot Gunners visit Old Trafford.

Cole, who actually began his football career with the Gunners, said: "Arsenal will be a good barometer of what United's chances are this season.

"There's been talk that no one fears them any more since Alex Ferguson left - this will be a good chance to prove the critics wrong."

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.