Remarkable Rooney rules the roost
Manchester United - Wayne Rooney joint fourth on list of United hat-trick goalscorers
Wayne Rooney is breaking records left, right, and centre, as he continues his impressive start to the 2011-12 campaign, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson lost for words when reserving special praise for his Manchester United hitman.
The 25-year-old striker is in the form of his life, after bagging a second consecutive hat-trick in Saturday evening's 5-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium.
The sky is the limit for Rooney, whose frightening performances continue to be the catalyst for the Red Devils' 100% start to the season, having netted eight of the side's 18 goals in their opening four Barclays Premier League games.
Rooney joins an exclusive club, becoming only the fourth player in top-flight history, following the inception of the Premier League, to net back-to-back hat-tricks - a feat equalled by English legends Les Ferdinand and Ian Wright, and more recently Chelsea's Didier Drogba.
The tremendous achievement also raises Rooney to joint fourth on United's list of all-time hat-trick goalscorers, level with Sir Bobby Charlton on seven, and behind Dennis Viollet (9), Jack Rowley (12), and the 'King of the Stretford End' Dennis Law - who netted an incredible 18 trebles in his 11-year stay at Old Trafford.
He surpasses the likes of Joe Cassidy, David Herd, Stan Pearson, Tom Reid and Ruud van Nistelrooy on six, and moves a step closer to booking his place in Manchester United folklore.
"That's a tremendous level to talk about [matching Charlton]," Ferguson told ESPN. "I think that's a fantastic achievement considering he's only 25 and he's got many years in front of him, so I'm sure he'll pass it."
Rooney will have relished the resumption of his notoriously fruitful partnership with Javier Hernandez in the Manchester United attack - a claim that was there for all to see in full glory as the little Mexican bagged the other two goals to put the Trotters to the sword, leaving Ferguson to heap further praise on the pair.
"It was excellent," he continued. "They're a constant threat, the movement and the pace they play at was truly first class for us."
The team performance should be regarded as all the more impressive as it came off the back of the international break, prior to which the Red Devils completed an 8-2 mauling of Arsenal - the stage of Rooney's former hat-trick which included his 150th goal for Manchester United.
Rarely do sequels match the original, but United's short trip to the Reebok failed to read the transcript, and pale in comparison to their famous victory a fortnight ago.
The message here is that the reigning champions remain very much the team to beat after another scintillating display, spearheaded by the form of their talismanic striker who has individually netted more goals than any other team in the Barclays Premier League, bar the club that sits just 20 motorway miles away, their increasingly noisy neighbours Manchester City.
The Citizens' impressive start to the new campaign - they have matched United's 12 point return from four games played - keeps the pressure on Ferguson's side following their latest 3-0 win over Wigan, but the manager insists his players will not be distracted by Roberto Mancini's team.
"I think you just have to concentrate on yourselves," he concluded. "We've got a lot of difficult games and it's a difficult start to the season we've got.
"We've got all the bigger names and we've got Chelsea next Sunday, so it's a hectic time and if we can come through it we'll have done well."