Manchester United is through to the knockout stage of the Europa League after a 3-0 win against Moldovan outfit FC Sheriff, setting a date with destiny against table-topping Real Sociedad in a matchday six clash that will guarantee the winner top spot in Group E and automatic passage deeper into the tournament bracket.
Goals from Diogo Dalot, Marcus Rashford, and Cristiano Ronaldo were more than enough to keep within striking distance of Sociedad and in with a chance to reverse their 1-0 matchday one loss against the Basque Country outfit.
But one player that has come in for a swath of criticism was summer signing Antony, after the ~€100m signing was removed at the half-time interval in the wake of what has been deemed on socials as a bit of wasteful showboating during the run of play.
For former United midfielder and club legend Paul Scholes, the Brazilian international’s bit of skill was classed as ridiculous.
“I don’t know what he’s doing. It’s ridiculous. It’s showboating. But that’s the way he plays I’ve seen him do it at Ajax as well. I think he needs that knocking out of him.”
Antony received the ball near the right-side touchline during the first half in plenty of space to progress play forward for Erik ten Hag’s men, but instead, decided to display his technical craft and pull off a trademark double-twirl before trying to thread a through ball that ultimately ran out for a goal kick.
Likened as a technical master during his credible two-year stint at Dutch giants AFC Ajax before his arrival at Old Trafford this summer, Antony is no doubt gifted with the ball at his feet but his decision to showboat and entertain rather than pick his head up and move play forward has come under fire from former professionals beyond Scholes, but many fans on social media have chosen to see the lighthearted angle and claim that football should also be entertaining.
However, there is certainly something to be said for entertainment with substance and an end goal, and though Antony did connect his pass into space, the discussion could well be very different if the entire passage of play resulted in a scoring chance.
Still, simplicity may be the order of the day and the question now may be whether or not this will cause Ten Hag to come down on the player in the run-up to United’s weekend fixture against West Ham United on Sunday.