Manchester United successfully progressed to 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 club grabbed the headlines, but a first-half incident saw winger Antony come under fire for an alleged display. performing his trademark ‘spin’ trick..
With the game still goalless, the Brazilian collected the ball in acres of space, went 360 degrees twice and then misplaced a pass that went straight wide for a goal.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (US)
New hair, same tricks.
Anthony makes his signature at Old Trafford. 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/ZdvjHP3iQV
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 27, 2022
Predictably, the double-take caused a stir as fans on social media and studio pundits debated whether a player expressing himself on the pitch before needlessly giving away possession is good or bad.
Antony’s spin might be the most pointless skill I’ve ever seen in my life.
— Owuraku Ampofo (@_owurakuampofo) October 27, 2022
The Antony 360° spin trick is exciting. Breathtaking nonsense. It’s probably not even that hard to do from scratch. And yet, he clearly loves doing it and seems to have no intention of stopping. Remarkable.
— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) October 27, 2022
Roy Keane sees Anthony’s 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 dug up Antony saying it’s embarrassing – I don’t mind!”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) October 27, 2022
It has even been pointed out that Antony’s spin is nowhere near being the most pointless ‘skill’ developed 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 pointless skill from someone who has played on the right wing for Man Utdpic.twitter.com/CDPfAVbjjr
— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) October 27, 2022
When he released his player ratings for the game, ESPN’s own Rob Dawson awarded Antony a disappointing score of 4/10 after he failed to make much of an impact against Sheriff beyond his viral frippery.
Antony regularly performed the spin and was even forced to prove it upon his arrival at United in the summer with the club posting a fan clip on their official social media channels.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 1, 2022
A number of prominent pundits have expressed strong views after seeing the travesty against Sheriff, with former United midfielder Paul Scholes quick. to defame Antonis for his fancy foot calling the stunt “ridiculous.” Former United graduate Robbie Savage also branded the 720-degree carousel “embarrassing” commentating on the game.
However, it was also pointed out that Scholes’ assessment may have been somewhat clouded by bad memories of South African midfielder Scara Ngobese. doing the same trick right in front of him during United’s friendly match against Kaizer Chiefs in 2008.
This is why Scholes hates this Anthony spin because he has been victimized when United played in South Africa 😂 https://t.co/chnGclI4c9
— andil.99 (@AndileMhlabane) October 28, 2022
Antony was subbed off at half-time with Sheriff, although United manager Erik ten Haag later insisted the change was pre-planned and more a function of the Brazilian’s general 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 game. “I also demand more from him — more running back, more often into the box, more fans inside and more pace dribbles, especially, and more play in the pocket.
Ten Haag explained that Antony was replaced due to a lack of intensity, although he also vowed to “correct” the imposing 22-year-old on the right time and place to dig deep into his bag.
“We need more dominance in this game and when there’s a trick like that, it’s nice. As long as it’s functional, if you don’t lose the ball and attract players, then it’s fine. But if it’s a trick for the sake of a trick, then I’ll fix it.”
Of course, the reaction to Antony’s spin has reignited the age-old debate about where the line is between genuine talent and pointless showboating when it comes to attacking football. Many creative players — many of them Brazilian — have made a trick of their own over the years.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 19, 2022
Indeed, we need look no further than Neymar to adopt it “sombrero“ (a sneaky flick over the ball over and over an opponent’s head) at a young age and soon made it his own.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 31, 2021
The Paris Saint-Germain star is also partial to a “Rainbow Shake”, trapping the ball between his two heels and using them to arc the ball over his marker.
Flip, tire, akka or snakebite❓
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) January 11, 2022
Used by Ronaldo and Ronaldinho among others, the “elastic” or “flip-flap” he has been a staple of the Brazilian side for many years.
Excellent skill 💫
A BOSS no look assist ❌👀
End of lesson ⚽️
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 5, 2019
Liverpool star Roberto Firmino has carved out a nice little niche as the main exponent of brashness “pass no show.”
✨ Las mejores CROQUETAS sobre el terreno juego las hacia @andresiniesta8.
— LaLiga (@LaLiga) January 16, 2021
Renowned for his skill on the ball, Andres Iniesta has perfected it “croquette“ — a quick shift of the ball between his legs that allowed the former Barcelona midfielder to weave through gaps between defenders.
Kerlon’s dribbles were impressive but rarely finished well pic.twitter.com/NwR3ryT4rj
— James Dart (@James_Dart) May 20, 2020
Perhaps the most infamous of all the signature tricks was the “seal dribble” performed by the Brazilian striker Kerlon. The ball was flicked up and juggled across the face, usually right up until an angry defender over-aggressively stopped the proceedings.