Antony’s heated reaction during the Manchester derby has raised concerns, with Ian Wright attributing it to the example set by Manchester United’s captain, Bruno Fernandes.
Antony entered the game during the closing moments of Manchester United’s 3-0 loss to their city rivals at Old Trafford. He expressed his frustration by kicking out at Manchester City’s Jeremy Doku and slapping his arms away in a contentious moment.
Throughout the second half, as the match slipped away from United, Bruno Fernandes became increasingly animated. The team’s captain is known for his vocal expressions of dissatisfaction, which were visible multiple times during Sunday’s defeat.
Wright commented on The Kelly and Wrighty Show: “Bruno sometimes reacts strongly when his teammates are not ready. It’s not conducive to the team’s performance. Antony’s actions upon coming on and his decision to kick out at [Jeremy] Doku may be influenced by the captain’s example. That’s the captain’s behavior impacting the team.”
In the summer, Fernandes was appointed as the club’s captain, replacing Harry Maguire after Erik ten Hag took the armband off him. This decision surprised some observers. While Fernandes has been a consistent performer, his attitude has often been a topic of discussion.
Former Manchester United player Owen Hargreaves commented, “I understand he may appear moody, but I think he attempted to show the fans that he cares by trying to kick out at [a City player]. However, it may not come across the right way, and it can be frustrating for many people.”
Wright also suggested that Fernandes’ work rate, which often involves breaking from the team structure to press the opposition, may be more for the fans than his teammates, potentially causing frustration among the latter.
“He often closes down opponents on his own, and that sends a signal to the players he’s on the pitch with that he’s playing for the crowd,” remarked the former Arsenal player. “When you see a player going it alone without support from the team, it can create a sense that he’s looking out for himself.”
Roy Keane, who led Manchester United during a highly successful era, believes that Ten Hag should consider stripping Fernandes of the captaincy due to characteristics that don’t align with what he values in a captain.
Keane expressed on Sky Sports: “It’s really not acceptable. When we discuss making changes – whether at the board level or with the managers – I’d start with that because the manager has the authority to make that decision. Fernandes is an exceptional footballer, but he exhibits characteristics that are the opposite of what you’d want in a captain.”