Is Antony good enough to make it at Manchester United?

Antony’s £86m arrival at Man United was meant to solve the club’s right-wing crisis… but ZERO assists and an inability to beat his man has Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand joining fans in criticising the Brazilian star

  • Man United winger Antony has split opinion since his £86m move to Old Trafford
  • The Brazilian was expected to be the club’s star winger but looks short of ideas
  • Red Devils legends Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville have led criticism of Antony 

Manchester United thought when they forked out £86m to Ajax for Brazilian winger Antony in the summer that they were getting a ready-made world beater capable of becoming the catalyst for getting bums off seats inside Old Trafford.

During the club’s 3-2 defeat away to Arsenal on Sunday, Antony was unceremoniously hooked off in the 71st minute for Fred. Evidence, if ever it was needed, that he isn’t trusted to provide the winning spark against top opposition. 

But, despite United manager Erik ten Hag endearing himself to the club’s faithful fanbase and seemingly waving a magic wand over the the team’s humiliating 21/22 season, the acquisition of Antony remains a rare question mark over the Dutchman’s decision-making.

New Manchester United winger Antony has failed to impress during his time so far at the club

Antony (L) scored on his Premier League debut during United’s win over Arsenal in September

Since then, the Brazilian has struggled to find form and was hooked off during Sunday’s defeat

Like with every newcomer to the English top-flight, there is a fair argument that the 22-year-old needs to be given reasonable time to adjust to the demands of playing in what many consider the toughest league in the world, but patience amongst United fans and former players is running out.

Head on to social media and the variously held viewpoints swing from one end of the pendulum to the other. Some United supporters claim the left-footed attacker will reach his world class potential, while others feel he is another South American flop that will eventually move on.

Antony is yet to fully show the silky footwork that dazzled opponents during his Ajax days

United’s struggles in the right-wing department have been well catalogued during recent seasons, with Jadon Sancho’s high-profile move from Borussia Dortmund in 2021 meant to solve all their problems. 

Less than two years on and it clearly hasn’t worked. Antony’s arrival was an admission that the club had got it wrong. Unfortunately, so far all eyes point towards a second costly mistake.

Scoring on his debut in United’s 3-1 win over Arsenal near the start of the season, Antony went on to score in his next two league games, but since then highlights have been few and far between as the Brazilian struggled to build on bright moments.

Three Premier League goals – his last coming against Everton in September – and a goal in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup – doesn’t exactly match the hype that his overpaid arrival in Manchester brought with it. 

Moreover, his seeming inability to run at players and take his opposite man on is becoming an ever-growing frustrating part of the winger’s game – and it is prompting many to question why he hasn’t faced the axe.

What’s gone wrong for Ten Hag’s trusted confidant? Or is playing for one of the world’s biggest clubs just a step too far for the man from Sao Paulo?

The 22-year-old has scored three Premier League goals since his £86m move to Old Trafford

Antony (L) is dividing opinions amongst Manchester United fans with many labelling him a flop

Former Manchester United full-back Gary Neville led criticism of Antony in the wake of his poor showing against Premier League leaders Arsenal on Sunday, telling his podcast: ‘I wish they had better quality in the final third, Sancho isn’t out there and you would expect United to have better options off the bench but they haven’t at this moment in time. 

‘I want to see more from Antony, £90m signing and I think to take him off is a disappointment because you would like to think like Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, who are also young players, that Marcus Rashford and Antony could’ve been the ones on the other side of it, counter-attacking for United.

‘But it’s just not happening for him at this moment in time and he has got a bit of work to do. He obviously he is newer to England than the other two.’

Neville’s former teammate and fellow United legend Rio Ferdinand also gave an alarming analysis of the winger’s struggles against Arsenal, saying on his Vibe with Five YouTube channel: ‘He just doesn’t beat anyone and I’m sitting there thinking, “Was that always the way?

Antony has been a regular starter under manager Erik ten Hag despite struggling in matches

He joined United for £86m in the summer and was meant to solve the club’s right-wing crisis

‘I’ve seen clips of him when he was at Ajax and he was somebody who used to beat people.

Pundit Gary Neville criticised Antony and Manchester United’s quality in the final third

‘I saw Thomas Partey, who I wouldn’t put down as a sprinter, absolutely burst past him, and I’m thinking, “Woah, he (Antony) hasn’t got much power in them legs!”

‘He’s a tricky winger, but with tricky wingers you want them to still be able to beat the defender.’

At Ajax, Antony was the star of the Johan Cruyff arena, scoring 24 goals and registering 22 assists in 82 appearances for the Eredivisie champions, not to mention his mesmerising footwork that would see him glide past players in similar fashion to the man the Dutch club named their stadium after.

Since swapping Holland for England however, those qualities have rarely been seen, with Antony’s dribbling success rate dropping by 20 per cent and making on average just one successful dribble every 90 minutes. Hardly a great return on the near £100m the club forked out for his services.

Club legend Rio Ferdinand questioned Antony’s quality following Sunday’s defeat at Arsenal

He needs to improve quickly with the impending return of Jadon Sancho bringing competition

His trademark spin combined with blistering pace and an array of skills typical of Brazilian wingers means Antony has all the hallmarks to be a success in England’s north-west. 

But he needs to start demonstrating the qualities that first earned him a move to the club or else faces the exit door.

The impending return of Sancho only heaps more pressure on Antony to start producing the goods for Man United with the club still realistically in the hunt for the Premier League title, but if improvement isn’t seen soon then it would be no surprise to see Ten Hag drop the star and head back to the transfer market.

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