Manchester United successfully qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League with a convincing 3-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol, although the game was not without controversy.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored on his return to the team, but the first-half incident saw winger Antony draw criticism for allegedly showing off. doing his trademark “spin” trick.
With the game still scoreless, the Brazilian collected the ball in acres of space, did two 360-degree jumps and then produced a misplaced pass that went straight into the net.
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New hair, same tricks.
Anthony makes his signature move at Old Trafford. 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/ZdvjHP3iQV
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 27, 2022
The double spin predictably caused some uproar, as fans on social media and pundits in the studio debated whether a player expressing himself on the field before giving away an unnecessary ball was a good or bad thing.
Antony’s spin might be the most useless skill I’ve ever seen in my life.
— Owuraku Ampofo (@_owurakuampofo) October 27, 2022
Antony’s 360° spin trick is exciting. Breathtakingly pointless. It might not even be very hard to do at first. And yet he clearly loves doing it and seems to have no intention of stopping. Considerable.
— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) October 27, 2022
Roy Keane seeing Anthony spin in training pic.twitter.com/KAGDkM70rH
— No Context Keaneo (@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 called Antonia out saying it’s embarrassing – I don’t mind!”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) October 27, 2022
It has even been pointed out that Antony’s turnovers are far from the most useless “skill” developed by a winger who has played for United, largely thanks to the efforts of one Andrii Kanchelski.
Antony’s spin isn’t even the most useless skill for someone who has played on the right wing for Man Utd.pic.twitter.com/CDPfAVbjjr
— Adam Heary (@FootballCliches) October 27, 2022
Handing out his player ratings for the game, ESPN’s own Rob Dawson gave Anthony a disappointing 4/10 as he failed to make much of an impact against Sheriff beyond his viral profanity.
Antony has regularly taken the spin and was even made to demonstrate it when he joined United with the club in the summer posting an amazing clip on their official social media channels.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 1, 2022
A number of prominent pundits voiced strong opinions after witnessing the charade against Sheriff, with former United midfielder Paul Scholes berating Antony for his fine footwork calling the stunt “ridiculous.” Fellow former United graduate Robbie Savage also called the 720-degree carousel “disgraceful” when commentating on the game.
However, it was also suggested that Scholes’ assessment may have been somewhat clouded by bad memories of South African midfielder Skara Ngobesi. doing the same trick right in front of him United’s pre-season friendly against Kaizer Chiefs in 2008.
This is why Scholes hates Anthony’s spin as he has been a victim of it when United played in South Africa 😂 https://t.co/chnGclI4c9
— andil.99 (@AndileMhlabane) October 28, 2022
Anthony was sent off against Sheriff at half-time, although United boss Erik ten Haag later insisted the substitution was pre-planned and more to do with the Brazilian’s general ineffectiveness at Old Trafford on the night.
“I have no problem with that [the spin] as long as it’s functional,” the Dutchman said after the game. “I’m asking more from him too – more runs in behind, more often in the box, more follow-ups and more pace dribbles especially, and more playing in the pocket.
Ten Haag explained that Antony was replaced due to a lack of intensity, but also promised to “correct” the flamboyant 22-year-old in terms of the right time and place to dip into his bag of tricks.
“We demand more dominance in this game and if there’s a trick like that, it’s nice. As long as it’s functional, if you don’t lose the ball and get players involved, then it’s good. But if it’s a trick for the sake of a trick, then I’ll correct him. “
Of course, the reaction to Antonio’s spin has sparked the age-old debate about where the line is between true flair and unnecessary driving with attacking football. Many creative players, many of them Brazilian, have tried their trick over the years.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 19, 2022
Indeed, we need look no further than Neymar who accepted “sombrero“ (sly kicking the ball up and over the opponent’s head) at an early 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 flick”, trapping the ball between his two heels and using them to curve the ball over the marker.
Flip flap, elasztico, akka or snake bite❓
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) January 11, 2022
It was used by Ronaldo and Ronaldinho among others “flexible” or “flip-flap” was a Brazilian side for many years.
Excellent skill 💫
Help BOSS without appearance ❌👀
Class finish ⚽️
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 5, 2019
Liverpool star Roberto Firmino has carved out a nice little niche for himself as the ultimate exponent of cheekiness. “don’t look pass.”
✨ Las mejores CROQUETAS sobre el terreno de juego las hacía @andresiniesta8.
— LaLiga (@LaLiga) January 16, 2021
Renowned for his agility on the ball, Andres Iniesta perfected the ball “croquet“ — a quick change of ball between his legs that allowed the former Barcelona midfielder to burst through the gaps between defenders.
Kerlon’s seal dribbles were impressive but rarely ended well pic.twitter.com/NwR3ryT4rj
— James Dart (@James_Dart) May 20, 2020
Perhaps the most infamous of all the signature tricks was “seal dribble” performed by Brazilian forward Kerlon. The ball was lifted up and juggled across the forehead, usually until a furious defender interrupted the proceedings too aggressively.