Manchester United successfully qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League with a comfortable 3-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol, although the game was not entirely without controversy.
Cristiano Ronaldo scoring on his return to the team grabbed the headlines, but a first-half incident saw winger Antony criticized for his alleged display. performing his trademark “spin” trick..
With the game still scoreless, the Brazilian collected the ball in acres of space, 360-degreed it twice and then followed up with a miscued pass that went straight for a goal kick.
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New hair, same tricks.
Antony withdraws his signature at Old Trafford. 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/ZdvjHP3iQV
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 27, 2022
Predictably, the double spin caused an uproar as fans on social media and pundits in the studio debated whether a player expressing himself on the pitch before needlessly giving away possession is a good or bad thing.
Anton’s spin might just be the most useless skill I’ve ever seen in my life.
— Owuraku Ampofo (@_owurakuampofo) October 27, 2022
The Antony 360° spin trick is fascinating. Breathtaking nonsense. It’s probably not even that hard to do in the first place. And yet he seems to love doing it and doesn’t seem to have any intention of stopping. Extraordinary.
— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) October 27, 2022
Roy Keane watching Antony spin in training pic.twitter.com/KAGDkM70rH
— No Context Keane (@NoContextKeaneo) October 28, 2022
“Grow up a little…” 😳
Ian Holloway says Antony’s skill was “unnecessary nonsense” 🔊🔛 pic.twitter.com/eVRfppv28d
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 28, 2022
🤷♂️ Jamie: “People have taken Anton out saying it’s embarrassing – I don’t mind!”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) October 27, 2022
It was even pointed out that Antony’s spin isn’t even close to being the most pointless piece of “skill” to have been displayed by a winger who has played for United, largely thanks to the efforts of one Andrei Kanchelskis.
Antony’s spin isn’t even the most wasted skill from someone who has played on the right wing for Man Utd.pic.twitter.com/CDPfAVbjjr
— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) October 27, 2022
When doing his player ratings for the game, ESPN’s own Rob Dawson gave Antony a disappointing 4/10 as he failed to make much of an impact against Sheriff beyond his viral frequency.
Antony has performed the rotation regularly and was even forced to demonstrate it upon his arrival at United in the summer with the club. posting an admiring clip across their official social media channels.
– Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 1, 2022
Several leading pundits voiced strong opinions after witnessing the prank against Sheriff, with former United midfielder Paul Scholes quick. to denigrate Anthony for his fantastic footwork calling the stunt “ridiculous.” Former United alumnus Robbie Savage also slammed the 720-degree carousel as “embarrassing” while commentating on the game.
However, it was also pointed out that Scholes’ assessment could be somewhat clouded by bad memories of South African midfielder Scara Ngobese. doing the same trick directly in front of him during United’s pre-season friendly against Kaizer Chiefs in 2008.
This is why Scholes hates that spin from Anthony because he was a victim of it when United played in South Africa 😂 https://t.co/chnGclI4c9
— andil.99 (@AndileMhlabane) October 28, 2022
Antony came off at half-time against Sheriff, although United boss Erik ten Haag later insisted the change was pre-planned and more a function of the Brazilian’s overall lack of impact on the night at Old Trafford.
“I have no problem with that [the spin] as long as it’s functional,” the Dutchman said after the match. “I also want more from him — more running back, more often into the box, more chasing and more tempo dribbling, especially, and more pocket play .
Ten Haag explained that Antony was replaced due to a lack of intensity, although he also vowed to “correct” the towering 22-year-old in terms of the right time and place to step into his bag of tricks.
“We’re looking for more dominance in this game and when there’s a trick like that, it’s good. As long as it’s functional, if it’s not losing the ball and pulling players, then it’s fine. But if it’s a trick because of a fraud, then I will correct it.”
Of course, the reaction to Antony’s spin has reignited the age-old debate about where the line lies between genuine flair and unnecessary showmanship when it comes to attacking football. Many creative players — many of them Brazilian — have made a trick of their own throughout the years.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 19, 2022
Indeed, we need look no further than Neymar who adopted him “sombrero“ (a crafty shot on the ball up and over the opponent’s head) at a young age and quickly made it his own.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 31, 2021
The Paris Saint-Germain star is also partial to a “rainbow movement”, trapping the ball between his two heels and using them to arc the ball over his marker.
Return the crash, elasticity, akka or snakebite❓
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) January 11, 2022
Used by Ronaldo and Ronaldinho among others, “flexible” or “flip-flap” was a staple of the Brazilian side for many years.
Excellent skill 💫
A BOSS no look assistance ❌👀
End of class ⚽️
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 5, 2019
Liverpool star Roberto Firmino has carved out a nice little niche for himself as a leading exponent of the cheeky. “passage without view”.
✨ Las mejores CROQUETAS sobre el terreno de juego las hacia @andresiniesta8.
— LaLiga (@LaLiga) January 16, 2021
Famous for his agility on the ball, Andres Iniesta perfected the ball “croquettes“ — a quick shift of the ball between his legs that allowed the former Barcelona midfielder to weave through gaps between defenders.
Kerlon’s trademark dribbles were impressive but rarely finished well pic.twitter.com/NwR3ryT4rj
— James Dart (@James_Dart) May 20, 2020
Perhaps the most infamous of all signature tricks was her “seal dribbling” performed by Brazilian striker Kerlon. The ball was bounced up and tricked across the face, usually until an irate defender put a stop to overly aggressive proceedings.