Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has criticized wingers Jadon Sancho and Antony saying they ‘lack imagination’ and should watch Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka to get tips on how to beat their man.
Speaking on his FIVE YouTube stream, the former United defender approached the subject of the current United wingers and opined, “We don’t seem to have the imagination in those areas.”
“We used to give it to Nani, Giggsy, to Becks even, give it to Antonio Valencia or Cristiano Ronaldo when they’re wide…get them one versus one and do your thing.
“At the moment we get in those positions and unfortunately for us, our wide players are turning away from that, they’re not killing fullbacks, they’re not skinning them.”
Ferdinand then went on to claim that Saka is the best at this currently. “Saka does it as well as anyone at the moment in the league.”
Certainly United need more from their wingers as currently they do seem to be too predictable.
Quite often, they end up cutting inside and trying to shoot or passing back to the full-back rather than taking on defenders.
Dribbling ability aside, it needs to be mentioned that both Antony and Sancho do have three goals each in all competitions this season.
Alarmingly though, neither of them have an assist between them, which highlights the lack of creativity that the pair are currently offering.
However, taking Sancho and Antony’s dribbling stats (via fbref) and comparing them with Saka, who Rio suggested was ‘the best in the league’, paints a slightly different picture.
Sancho is in a far higher percentile than Saka for players dribbled past, with even Antony sitting above Saka for this particular metric.
Sancho also sits in a far superior percentile than Saka for successful dribbles. Unfortunately this is where Antony’s figures look alarmingly poor.
So whilst direct comparisons like this don’t always tell the whole story, it’s clear Saka is probably not the player the United wingers need to look towards for inspiration!
United manager Erik ten Hag will be hoping Sancho can get back to his impressive early season form, while Antony has shown what he is capable of despite still trying to find his feet at a new club in a new country.
Ferdinand was blessed to have played with quite a few illustrious wingers in his United career, perhaps Sancho and Antony should look to the names mentioned previously for inspiration rather than Saka.
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