Early United hat-tricks
Amid all the excitement on Sunday, it’s worth putting Robin van Persie’s achievement into perspective after his hat-trick ensured a 3-2 win against Southampton.
The new signing took just three games – two starts – to bag a treble and elevate him to an elite group of players who have quickly become Old Trafford heroes with their goalscoring exploits.
Of course, Wayne Rooney smashed three goals on his debut in a Champions League tie with Fenerbahce in 2004 equalling a feat managed by Charlie Sagar in 1905. But van Persie’s current team-mate is the only United player quicker to grab hold of the match-ball since.
A number of post-War stars have netted hat-tricks in their first season, including the recently-departed Michael Owen who showed vintage form in the win at Wolfsburg in his 20th appearance but only eighth start.
Stuart Pearson took only nine games to blast a treble, with all his goals coming in the first half of a 4-0 win against Oxford in the Second Division back in 1974. Seven matches into Andy Cole‘s United career, he hit five in the 9-0 annihiliation of Ipswich to silence any criticism of the fee that brought him from Newcastle.
Sir Bobby Charlton wasted less time, taking only six games to register a hat-trick for the club. After a brace on his debut against Charlton, he went one better in the 5-1 win at The Valley in February 1957. He went on to take home the match-ball on a further six occasions.
Even the biggest hat-trick king of them all, Denis Law, took 16 games, although he did it in style, with four against Ipswich. The Stretford End idol notched at least three times on 18 occasions.
Another of United’s deadliest marksmen and van Persie’s countryman, Ruud van Nistelrooy, needed 22 fixtures. Coincidentally, he hit his first treble against Southampton after also opening his league account versus Fulham.
Hat-tricks in first season (Post-War)
Player (Debut-First hat-trick)
Sir Bobby Charlton (6.10.56-18.2.57)
Andy Cole (22.1.95-4.3.95)
Jimmy Greenhoff (20.11.76-19.2.77)
Denis Law (18.8.62-3.11.62)
Brian McClair (15.8.87-2.4.88)
Willie Morgan (28.8.68-19.3.69)
Michael Owen (9.8.09-8.12.09)
Stuart Pearson (17.8.74-2.11.74)
Wayne Rooney (28.9.04)
Ruud van Nistelrooy (12.8.01-22.12.01)
Dwight Yorke (22.8.98-16.1.99)