Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has criticised Antony for his showboating in the Red Devils’ 3-0 Europa League win over Sheriff Tiraspol on Thursday night.
Erik ten Hag’s men went into the match at Old Trafford knowing anything but a defeat of more than one goal would be enough to secure their spot in the knockout stages of the tournament and after a fairly tough first half, Man Utd eventually sailed through.
Diogo Dalot opened the scoring just before half time with Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo rounding things off, the latter getting his first Old Trafford goal of the season. But nobody has been focusing on the result in the aftermath of the match. Instead, all eyes have been on Antony.
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The Brazilian has been a breath of fresh air to the Man Utd team since joining from Ajax in the summer, a skilled player who will understandably be boosted having worked with Ten Hag before, knowing his systems and style which has helped him bed in quicker. Playing on the right wing, Antony has caused opposition defences a lot of problems already in a Man Utd shirt, especially when he cuts inside and shoots with his left foot – which is slowly becoming his trademark a la Arjen Robben.
But Antony does have another trademark move, which he pulled off in the first half. Receiving a pass from on the right, Antony spun around with the ball almost glued to his feet as Rasheed Akanbi watched on. The Brazilian then attempted a pass through to Casemiro into the box but put just a bit too much power onto it, sending the ball out for a goal kick.
While Man Utd fans cheered the move, Robbie Savage dubbed it embarrassing on commentary, saying: “Well that, for me, is ridiculous. Because he’s done that and then he’s put the ball out of play.
“Quite embarrassing actually. Doing that with nobody near him and then he puts the ball out of play. If I was the manager I would not be happy.”
Savage’s sentiments were echoed by Paul Scholes at half-time, who believes Antony needs the showboating aspect of his game “knocking out of him”.
“If I was that number 61 I know what I’d be doing! I don’t know what he’s doing. It’s just ridiculous. It’s showboating,” Scholes said on BT Sport.
“Look at [Ten Hag’s reaction], that sums it up. What is he thinking? He’s not beating a man, he’s not entertaining anybody, it’s 0-0 and then he kicks the ball out. But that’s the way he plays, I’ve seen him do it many times for Ajax as well and that’s just the way he is, but I think he needs that knocking out of him.”
He after the game: “I’m not even sure it’s skill, is it? Could we do that? Is it his trademark? I think he needs a better one. He needs to find a more entertaining way.
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“I don’t think this country likes to see that. Does any country, even Brazil? Brazil don’t want to see that, do they? Ajax, in Holland, do they want to see that?
“I like to see skill, but I just don’t think that is skill or entertainment. That is just being a clown, isn’t it?”
Antony was taken off at half-time by Ten Hag but the Dutchman was quick to put down any rumours that the decision came as a result of the spin, saying: “No, no. It was more or less planned. If we were [winning], I wanted to see Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford close together, that was one of the reasons.
“Also to bring another dynamic over to the right side. I thought over the left side Alejandro Garnacho was playing quite well and he had a real threat in his actions, really good tempo dribbles, so that was good to see. So it was more or less planned.”
Of the trick, Ten Hag added: “I don’t have a problem with that as long as it’s functional. So from him I demand more: more runs in behind, more often in the box, more tempo dribbles especially and more playing in the pocket.
“So we demand more dominance in this game and when, now and then, there is a trick like that it is nice as long as it’s functional, you’re not losing the ball and it’s attracting players, then it’s okay. But if it’s a trick for the sake of a trick, then I will correct him.”
The backlash for Antony’s skills come not too long after Richarlison was criticised for his kick ups in Tottenham Hotspur’s win over Nottingham Forest, but as with his compatriot the Brazilian was largely hailed by fans for trying to inject some excitement into the match.
Thing is, what Antony did might be unnecessary and a bit disrespectful but the fans who have paid to watch this game will remember it and talk about it afterwards.
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) October 27, 2022
Hold on, we're making a big deal out of Antony doing a spin with the ball during the game?
Really? We're doing a thing out of a player showboating a little to make the crowd happy?
— Jonas Adnan Giæver (@CheGiaevara) October 28, 2022
So Antony did a spin!!!
Leave the kid alone…let him have his fun. Disrespectful…? I guess we all can live with that.
A 22- year old Brazilian who loves his football makes a “trick”…
Keep calm and carry on
— Jan Aage Fjørtoft 🏳️🌈 🇳🇴 💛💙 (@JanAageFjortoft) October 28, 2022
That Antony skill just looks odd because we're not used to it in this league. As long as he delivers who cares. Ten Hag will sort it out. On to the next game. It's not that deep when we're winning
— Mark Goldbridge (@markgoldbridge) October 27, 2022
Don't understand why people are having a go at Antony for bringing a bit of flair back to to Old Trafford. How long has it been since we've had a player with the confidence to do something like that. Let Antony thrive. I dont want a robotic winger. Let him be himself. pic.twitter.com/ZkXMoIZbhw
— 🔰Jack Barrett🔰 (@jackbarrettmufc) October 28, 2022
Garrincha used to dribble past the fullback, turn around and do it again.
It has nothing to do with social media and far more to do with Antony’s footballing upbringing, culture and how he expresses himself. https://t.co/isyJR4zEhh
— AllThingsSeleção ™ (@SelecaoTalk) October 27, 2022