The result, which sees Chris Wilder’s side enter the international break second in the Championship table, means United have now won seven of their eight matches on home soil since being promoted last season and moved them nine points clear of seventh place after 16 games of the campaign.
Clarke, whose performances this term recently prompted Wilder to claim the centre-forward is in “the form of his life”, was the star of the show following a superb second-half display but, speaking afterwards, said: “For me, it’s just about the team winning. I don’t mind who scores.
“Obviously it’s nice to get four goals but the team is the main thing.
“I think we deserve to be where we are because we’re playing some fantastic football. We’ll just keep driving and striving.
“When I came off, I told one of the boys I couldn’t remember what the second one was like.
“To be honest, it’s not really sunk in yet.”
Clarke became the first United player to score four times at Bramall Lane for 34 years when, having already completed his hat-trick, he hit the target again during the closing stages.
Although City took the lead through Kamil Grosicki, they were indebted to goalkeeper Allan McGregor for preventing the hosts from recording an even more resounding after he foiled Clarke (twice) and Jack O’Connell.
“I’m very laid back, calm and chilled,” Clarke, admitting it was important United bounced back from last week’s loss to Queens Park Rangers, continued. “Some people take it the wrong way but I don’t mean it to come across as rude or ignorant. That’s just how I am, calm and relaxed. To score four goals is the highlight of my career. But to come back from a defeat and a disappointing performance, that tells you a lot about this team.”
Trailing at the interval, United passed their test of character when Clarke combined with Cameron Carter-Vickers before converting further assists from Mark Duffy and Billy Sharp.
He later beat McGregor again after a seeing an attempted pass rebound off a defender and, reflecting upon United’s impressive start to the campaign, said: “There’s a reason why we’re there and it’s not luck. It’s through the manager having a philosophy and the players working to that. On top of it all, we’ve got good players and a brilliant group. Really, I know it’s a cliche, but we are just taking it game by game. We’re staying grounded because there’s lots of points to be won or lost.”