Manchester United and hat-tricks, long forgotten but something that is certain to return?

Manchester United has not scored a hat-trick since Zlatan Ibrahimovic got one in the UEFA Europa League against St Etienne at Old Trafford on the 16 February 2017. Wayne Rooney scored the last hat-trick before that when United was in the play-off stage of the UEFA Champions League against Club Brugge. Before that, Robin van Persie’s hat-trick which saw United win their 20th league title.

It is clear to say that hat-tricks are something that is missed by the supporters of the club and players, especially over the past few seasons, have come close to scoring them. It has been more than two years since the last hat-trick. However, there have been many braces scored by the players, which suggests that the club is getting closer to scoring hat-tricks once again. Here is the number of braces per season;

2018/19 – nine braces, 2017/18 – eleven braces, 2016/17 – eight braces, 2015/16 – six braces, 2014/15 – five braces, 2013/14 – fourteen braces, 2012/13 – eleven braces

Teams such as Manchester City seem to score hat-tricks for fun. This season alone, they have scored six hat-tricks in all competitions. It would be great if United could be achieving this feat. It seems so far away from actually happening but the confidence has started to return after five and a half years of chaos which has paid end to David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored three hat-tricks during his United career and with him now managing the club, albeit until the end of the season, although rumour suggests that he will be given the job permanently, it could see United start to play more attacking football, which has been the case so far this season. 91 players have scored hat-tricks for United in the history of the club.

Denis Law has scored the most hat-tricks for the club, scoring a total of 18 during his eleven-year career at Old Trafford. Jack Rowley scored 12, Dennis Viollet scored nine, Wayne Rooney scored eight, and Sir Bobby Charlton scored seven. Rooney is the only recent player to appear in the top ten, although Ruud van Nistelrooy, Andy Cole, Dimitar Berbatov, Mark Hughes, Robin van Persie, and Dwight Yorke do appear also.

Of the 64 braces scored between Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season managing the club and the current season, which start with Mourinho and will end with Solskjaer managing, Rooney has the most with 12, closely followed by Romelu Lukaku, a current player, with seven. Nine players who have scored braces no longer play for the club;

Marouane Fellaini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rooney, Memphis Depay, Van Persie, Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj, Javier Hernandez, and Ryan Giggs.

With nine of the players to have scored braces no longer at the club, another, James Wilson is currently out on loan and looks likely to leave the club on the expiry of his current contract at the end of the season. It leaves just nine of the nineteen players still at the club, which means there is still some goalscoring talent at the club, even though they need to start doing much better.

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United have scored just a single goal in their last two matches, which came after overcoming Paris Saint-Germain in Paris and earning a UEFA Champions League quarter-final place against Barcelona. Of these players, Lukaku, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Ashley Young, Juan Mata, Chris Smalling and Ander Herrera remain.

Lukaku has scored four braces this season and three last season. Pogba has scored three braces this season and one during each of the previous two seasons. Lingard has had one brace this season, two last season and Martial has scored one brace this season, one the season before last and two the season before that. It is not great reading for these talented players, although attacking football has newly returned to the club.

For United to get back to scoring hat-tricks, goal creation is a must as is every player on the pitch pulling together to ensure goals are scored regularly. That is all that stands in the way of United and further success, whether it be in the Premier League, Emirates FA Cup, Carabao Cup or even the UEFA Champions League. Scoring hat-tricks are not necessary to win trophies, but it certainly brings the feel-good factor back.

It may only be a matter of time before United start to score hat-tricks again. The scoring of braces dwindles under the management of Van Gaal but started to return under Mourinho and remain under Solskjaer. Whilst Mourinho’s football was not a 100% attacking style, it did evolve from Van Gaal’s style. Solksjaer’s though, have evolved further more and will continue to evolve into the United way of playing football.

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