Why does Erik ten Hag continue to trust Antony?

Erik ten Hag made Antony the second-most expensive player in Man United’s history but the £82m winger has one assist and no goals in his last 26 games… so why does the Dutchman continue to trust his former Ajax pupil?

  • Antony signed for Manchester United in an £82million deal last year
  • The Brazilian has one assist and no goals in the last 26 games for United 
  • Back off Erik ten Hag! Insipid Man United performances are on the players – not the manager – Listen to why on It’s All Kicking Off 

There was something symbolic about Erik ten Hag’s decision to replace Antony with Facundo Pellistri against Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.

With Manchester United staring Champions League elimination in the face late in the second half, the Dutchman felt a squad player with 323 minutes of football under his belt this season would be more effective than his record signing.

The only surprising aspect of the substitution was that it took Ten Hag 75 minutes to reach that conclusion.

United’s Champions League exit does not rest solely on Antony’s shoulders, nor is he Ten Hag’s biggest issue in a season lurching from one major crisis to the next.

But the Brazilian was again underwhelming against Bayern, to the extent where it is difficult to comprehend why, other than blind faith, Ten Hag continues to pick him.

Antony has struggled to establish himself at Manchester United after joining from Ajax

The Brazilian was largely ineffective in United’s loss to Bayern Munich on Tuesday night

Your browser does not support iframes.

Antony started quite brightly on Tuesday night, releasing Diogo Dalot and Scott McTominay and nutmegging Leon Goretzka in the first 20 minutes.

But he soon reverted to type and was a passenger for the rest of the game, as United failed to lay a glove on Bayern, let alone land a punch on the Bundesliga giants.

The narrative arc perfectly sums up Antony’s career in England so far. 

The Brazilian became the second most expensive player in United’s history when he followed ten Hag to Old Trafford from Ajax for £82million last year.

Three goals in his first three appearances initially silenced doubters and suggested the exorbitant fee United shelled out – the biggest ever received by an Eredivisie club – may even be worth it.

With the benefit of hindsight, it was the most deceiving of false dawns. 

Antony scored eight goals and registered just three assists in 44 appearances in all competitions last season.

Since scoring against Nottingham Forest on April 16, the 23-year-old has one assist and no goals in 26 appearances for United.

Antony has one assists and no goals in the last 26 appearances for United 

To put that dismal return into context, Jadon Sancho has more goals and assist over the same period, despite being banished from the first team since September.

Pellistri has as many assists this season as Antony has since last April, despite making just two starts.

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are enduring a miserable season themselves, yet they both have more goals and assists this term than Antony has delivered over the last eight months.

Taken in a vacuum, the Brazilian’s struggles could be simply dismissed as a misguided investment. Big clubs do get signings wrong from time to time after all.

But in the broader context of Ten Hag’s quest to return United to the top of English football they raise serious concerns.

Even the Dutchman’s harshest critics accept he needed time to overhaul the squad he inherited and perform the ‘open heart surgery’ Ralf Rangnick demanded.

In the second half of the loss to Bayern, United’s back five included players signed by Ten Hag, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Sir Alex Ferguson.


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

Your browser does not support iframes.

Antony, however, undermines that argument. He was Ten Hag’s signing, every bit as Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund were this summer.

Just as he championed Lisandro Martinez’s signing from Ajax, the Dutchman knew what he was getting with Antony.

‘He really impressed in terms of his football qualities and as a person,’ Ten Hag told United’s website at the time of the Brazilian’s unveiling.

‘He’s a fighter and someone who has a real willingness to win games, I like that.’

Antony scored 10 goals and set up as many in 46 appearances in his first season with Ajax as the Amsterdammers won the domestic double.

He was similarly prolific the following season, scoring 12 goals and registering eight assists in 33 games in all competitions as Ajax won a second consecutive Eredivisie title.

The leap to the Premier League has hitherto proved prohibitive for him, but that should hardly come as a surprise according to Jaap Stam.

Erik ten Hag signed Antony for £82million last summer after lengthy negotiations

Antony (right) joined fellow Ajax teammate Lisandro Martinez (left) at Old Trafford but while the Argentine impressed in his first season, the Brazilian has struggled in the Premier League

‘Antony, he’s not good enough for this level that we’re looking for at United,’ the former Manchester United and Holland defender told the Stick to Football podcast.

‘It wasn’t like he was the best player in Holland. 

‘He did okay for Ajax but then again, they’re playing in a league with a couple of good players, and the rest of the league – with all respect – are mediocre players.’

There are admittedly, mitigating circumstances for both Antony and Ten Hag, who supported the player when he faced domestic abuse allegations earlier this year.

The former cannot be held responsible for the exorbitant fee United paid for him, while the latter made clear Antony was his priority attacking target.

Ten Hag wanted a left-footed player to balance out his forward options, but United were reluctant to meet Ajax’s valuation of the player.

Perhaps Antony is simply the victim of circumstances, which the Dutchman admitted mean ‘United will never play like my Ajax team’.

But it appears increasingly likely he will simply go down as an expensive flop, whose failure at Old Trafford could have serious consequences for Ten Hag.

Source: Read Full Article