The Brazilian was fortunate to avoid a red card in the derby, and isn’t doing nearly enough to justify his place in in the squad
Manchester United have made a whole host of poor recruitment in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, especially when it comes to filling wide attacking berths. The likes of Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay and Alexis Sanchez all failed to justify their huge price tags, leaving the club with no choice but to accept significant losses on their initial investments.
Jadon sancho is now following the similar part from Borussia Dortmund in 2021, with a January exit on the cards after his public fallout with Erik ten Hag. But in United’s defence, there was at least some logic to all of those moves, as they put their money behind players with either a wealth of experience at the highest level or those with potential to becoming leading talents of their generation.
Antony, however, did not fall into either of those brackets. The Brazilian joined Ajax from Sao Paulo for just £13m ($16m) in July 2020, and spent two years at the Johan Cruyff ArenA under Ten Hag before following the Dutchman to Old Trafford last summer.
Ajax made a huge profit on Antony, who ranked 19th for goals scored (18), seventh for assists (8) and 21st for chances created (75) in the Eredivisie across the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. United didn’t just overpay for the winger, they had their pants pulled down in forking out £85m ($99m).
Antony hit the ground running in Manchester, becoming the first player to score in his first three Premier League games for United, but the glaring flaws in his game soon became apparent. The 23-year-old finished his first campaign with just eight goals to his name, and he’s yet to score or register an assist in nine appearances this term.
There have been no clear signs of improvement in his game, with the Red Devils rarely carrying any real threat down the right flank when he is selected to start. It’s clear already that Antony does not have what it takes to succeed at a club the size of United.
He is still under contract until 2027, but it would make no sense to let his stock keep plummeting. United must cut their losses on Antony at the earliest possible opportunity – on the back of his latest miserable showing in the Manchester Derby
Antony was dropped to the bench for United’s first meeting of the season with arch-rivals Manchester City on Sunday, and was seen shaking his head as Ten Hag snubbed him when making his first three substitutions of the match.
It wasn’t until the 86th minute that Antony was introduced, when United were already 3-0 down, and he didn’t appear to have much interest in trying to help his side stage an unlikely late comeback. In the closing stages, the Brazil international was instead beaten twice by Jeremy Doku in a one-on-one duel, and kicked out at the fleet-footed City attacker in frustration.
Doku wagged his finger in Antony’s face twice in response, and both times the United star angrily attempted to push his hand away before they were pulled apart by their team-mates. When the dust had settled, referee Paul Tierney decided that a yellow card sufficed as punishment for Antony,much to amazement of the United legends
“That’s absolutely ridiculous, that’s a sending-off,” Neville said while on commentary duty for Sky Sports. “Absolutely ridiculous from Antony. It’s embarrassing.”
Doku still had the last laugh though, as he took to social media to mock Antony after the final whistle. The Belgian posted an image of their altercation with the caption: “Stay calm. Manchester is blue.”
It wasn’t the first time that Antony has unnecessarily wound up an opponent, and it won’t be the last. Usually, he is the one inviting fouls – but the difference between him and Doku is that he rarely goes on to create a goalscoring chance for his team.
He’s a hot-head with an over-inflated opinion of himself, which is based on the misleading standing he enjoys in Ten Hag’s squad. Antony wouldn’t get near the starting XI at any other of the top six sides in the Premier League – he’s just the fortunate beneficiary of Ten Hag’s failure to look beyond players that he’s worked with in the past.