After Hannibal Mejbri showed plenty of fight in his brief cameo against Liverpool, former Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia said he was ‘proud’ of the 19-year-old
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Former Manchester United star Antonio Valencia has revealed his pride at youngster Hannibal Mejbri after his brief cameo against Liverpool.
The young Tunisian was brought on with six minutes of normal time remaining during the Reds’ 4-0 humbling at Anfield. However, he didn’t need long to make an impression as he hit Naby Keita with a robust challenge to get himself a booking just four minutes after coming on for Anthony Elanga.
While his introduction did little to stem Jurgen Klopp’s rampant Reds, his tenacity did also garner praise from Gary Neville. As well as garnering the respect of the former United captain, Valencia also connoted his respect for Hannibal’s character.
“Today I feel proud of this boy,” Valencia said on Twitter. The Ecuadorian’s tweet followed Neville’s praise of the 19-year-old midfielder.
He was one of the few United players to leave Anfield with any slither of credit. “That’s why I erred on the slightly unprofessional side of commentary tonight,” Neville said of Hannibal’s yellow card.
“When I said that the kid [Mejbri] to be fair I was proud of him because he was going round trying to top people and trying to kick people. But he demonstrated something, he showed something.
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“He didn’t like the idea of Liverpool, at Anfield, passing it around him and the idea of Liverpool taking the mick out of him and his team-mates. At least he demonstrated something.
“I’m not saying it’s brilliant because he could have hurt the Liverpool players, but as a Manchester United fan you can respond to that.” Nevertheless, the humiliation at Anfield has once again left many at Old Trafford feeling disillusioned by the current crop of player at Old Trafford.
However, United’s campaign is not completely dead in the water as they are still in the race for the top four. While the sheer number of goals conceded caused United top drop below Arsenal on goal difference, they remain just three points away from fourth placed Tottenham.
The Red Devils travel to face Arsenal in a must-win match at the Emirates, before returning to Old Trafford to host a Chelsea side that has recovered from their recent disappointment against Real Madrid in the Champions League. But Neville was left drained of optimism and hope after the humiliation at Anfield, stating he just wants the season to end as soon as possible.
“It’s a decade of repeated failure and that’s not good enough,” added Neville. “Man Utd have got everyone in the country expected tonight. Really in a poor place.
“The end of the season can’t come fast enough. Liverpool are top of their form and it was always going to be difficult. This is a broken Man Utd squad at this moment in time. It’s on the edge, that’s for sure. “
A similarly frustrated Roy Keane also left nothing back in his derision of the current United squad. “They lacked quality, they were so far off,” he said after the contest.
“You look at the Manchester United fans, they don’t look surprised by the score-line. They kept going to the end but you felt as though Liverpool could score whenever they wanted when they went forward.”