Erik ten Hag, the manager of Manchester United, is optimistic that Antony, a Brazilian winger United paid £86 million to sign, can find his form again and continue to be the “right” player for the team.
After pursuing Antony for many months starting in early 2022, United launched a major recruitment push to capture the Brazilian from Ajax, where he had excelled under Ten Hag. Antony showed promising moments of technical brilliance that piqued the curiosity of Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea, among others. Notably, he scored in each of his first three Premier League games and set up the goal that eliminated Barcelona from the Europa League.
However, his season was rather stop-start due to a few minor injuries, and by the time the 2022–2023 season was over, his form had mostly declined. In his first four Premier League games of 2023–24, Antony did not improve; he did not score or assist on any goals. When many women accused him of sexual assault in September, he was then put on a temporary leave of absence.
The 23-year-old returned to England and started training again at the end of September after staying in Brazil when he was removed from the national squad following the allegations. Manager Ten Hag seemed to imply that the “noise” was a factor in the decline in performance since he has not scored or assisted since returning to the pitch. Instead, he aimed to uphold the player’s dignity as a person and directed attention onto the group and himself as manager.
“That is also team, first, and the team is not playing well when we don’t bring him the balls and I am also responsible for that,” the United boss told the press on Wednesday night.
“But obviously, there was also a lot of noise and that dropped his levels. He can do better but all the players can do better. Antony is also a fighter, he has the confidence, he is brave and I am confident he will bring the performance, that he is the right player for us.”