With the possible exception of Roy Keane’s Sunderland crashing out of the Worthless Cup at the hands of lowly Luton Town, the kneecapping of Kieron Dyer and the previously noted passing of Antonio Puerta, Wednesday morning’s top soccer story belongs to the brittle Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. In honor of Solskjaer’s just announced retirement, the Guardian’s Rob Smtyth and Paolo Bandini consider the following :
“In terms of goals scored, is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the best substitute in English football history?” asks Peter Brown.
He’s certainly the best in Premiership history. (What do you mean football didn’t begin in 1992? Pass the muesli.) Solskjaer has scored 17 league goals after coming off the bench, which puts him comfortably clear of Jermain Defoe, Kanu, Andy Cole and Tore Andre Flo, each of whom have 13. In all competitions, Solskjaer scored 29 of his 126 United goals from the bench. His first goal for United, in August 1996, came six minutes after he was introduced in a home match against Blackburn; spookily, his last goal for the club also came six minutes after he had come off the bench at home to Blackburn.
It is hard to say with absolute certainty that Solskjaer is the most prolific substitute in English football history, as records from the pre-Premiership era are less comprehensive. His most likely rival, Liverpool’s David Fairclough, scored either 18 goals (according to the official Liverpool site) or 20 (various newspaper reports) as a substitute in his time at Anfield. Fairclough also played for Norwich, Oldham, Tranmere and Wigan but, in the absence of cold, hard data, we’re presuming he wasn’t a substitute too often. And he only scored three goals for them anyway.