Manchester United’s player recruitment has been, let’s just say, wayward, since Sir Alex left the helm back in 2013.
Many high-profile ‘failed’ transfers come to mind, like Falcao, Angel Di Maria, Alexis Sanchez and more. The list can go on and on.
Some though, have been categorical successes, like that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bruno Fernandes.
Fernandes joined the Red Devils in January 2020 from Sporting CP. He immediately made an impact, scoring and assisting in his first few games. He finished the 2019-2020 season with 8 goals and 7 assists in just 18 appearances.
The following season, the Portuguese continued his impressive form with 18 goals and 13 assists across all competitions, winning the Premier League Player of The Month award thrice. He also led United to Europa League final, where they lost to Villarreal.
New manager Erik Ten Hag, in a bid to help United reach the level they ought to be at, brought some more players this window who could assist Bruno and co.
Prime among these have been Casemiro from Real Madrid, Eriksen on free and Lisandro Martinez.
The headline capture was, of course, that of Antony from Ajax for £80m.
The Brazilian has made an immediate impact since joining, scoring on his debut against Chelsea in the Premier League and also scoring in his first Europa League match for the club.
The young winger has shown flashes of brilliance, using his pace and skill to beat defenders and create scoring opportunities. He has also shown a willingness to work hard on the defensive end. He has been a regular feature in Manchester United’s line-up ever since and has proved to be a valuable asset to the team.
Both Fernandes and Antony, along with the others in the squad, helped United go on a five-match winning streak in the PL, starting from Fulham on 13th November and ending with a 2-1 win over rivals Manchester City on 14th January.
The two-month winning run came to an end against Crystal Palace, with the match ending in a one-goal apiece draw.
Bruno Fernandes’ 44th-minute go-ahead goal was cancelled out in injury time of the second half by Michael Olise, who scored a tremendous freekick. A moment of inspiration, it was. And it had to be. De Gea was sensational throughout the match, making two crucial stops to keep his side ahead.
While the keeper was ‘le magnifique’, the front three was rather not.
Accompanying debutant Wout Weghorst on either side were Antony and Rashford, and the trio finished with ratings of 6.4,6.5 and 6.5 respectively.
United underperformed their xG of 2.08 and frustration was starting to creep in.
One such moment of angst between players was captured on camera and has since been making the rounds on social media.
In the clip, we can see that early in the match, United were on a break and the Eagles were retreating.
Antony was carrying the ball and somehow found himself very near the right touchline, thanks to a two-on-one by Palace defenders. Bruno was ahead of him and made a movement.
The Brazilian, to escape the defenders and keep the move going, passed to Fernandes but the Portuguese had made his run in another direction instead.
This meant the pass went astray, and so did that attack.
In the midst of ironic cheers by the crowd at Selhurst Park, the camera focused on the supposed culprit, Antony, who was, to the surprise of many, shouting at Bruno and making gestures.
The screen then shifted to Bruno, whose disbelief of the quality of the pass can be seen very evidently via his waving of the hand and shake of the head.
The two continued to argue as the players waited for the Palace keeper to restart play.
While we are accustomed to seeing players exchange insults, it is often players wearing different coloured jerseys. Teammates insulting each other are often restricted to places with limited or no cameras, like the dressing room or the training ground.
That is perhaps why this incident has drawn so much focus.
Upon close inspection and some amateur-level lip reading, we can see that Antony is shouting “Puta”. For those who are unaware, “Puta” is a derogatory term used in Spanish, translating to prostitute.
Way to get carried away, shouting such insults to the stand-in captain.
One can analyse the whole scenario and realise that both players are to blame for this situation.
Antony, as he has been accused of oftentimes, slowed the play down with too many touches until he had nowhere to go, killing the momentum.
And Bruno, who reacted by complaining about the pass instead of motivating the players. Players, especially captains, should be more mindful of their behaviour with others on the pitch.
All that being said, it is football after all and these instances can happen.
No further altercation occurred between the two men in red and play continued as normal.