The fall of Manchester United in recent seasons can be attributed to several significant factors beyond Erik ten Hag’s control, including the controversy surrounding Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s proposed acquisition of a 25% share in the team and the unfortunate amount of injuries in the squad.
Ten Hag has been under fire for his recruitment at Old Trafford, though, as Transfermarkt reports that he has spent over £400 million since the summer transfer window of 2022 to bring in 16 new players, paying an average of £35 million per deal.
These lavish additions aren’t exactly making waves, and one newcomer in particular, who cost the club its second-highest sum of money ever, is finding it difficult to adjust to life in English football.
Sancho versus Antony
Ten Hag had coached Ajax in Amsterdam when he first got to know Antony. Together, the pair captured two Eredivisie titles prior to the Dutch coach moving to Old Trafford in 2022. Bringing his Brazilian star to the Theatre of Dreams for an alleged £82 million—the highest sale in Dutch football history—was one of his first acquisitions as manager of the Red Devils.
Unfortunately for the player and manager, Antony has been unable to get going this season and has come under fire for some of his performances.
Club legend Gary Neville even labelled Antony as embarrassing during the team’s dismal derby defeat against Manchester City over a week ago.
There were even reports that jadon sancho grew fustrated with Antony being picked in the starting lineup in the build-up to his recent falling out with ten Hag. But has Antony been as bad as has been made out?
It was Pellistri who had come on for Antony with a half-hour to go after the Brazil international failed to have a single shot on goal or create any chances at Craven Cottage. Furthermore, the 23-year-old lost possession 10 times in 63 minutes, according to Sofascore. In the Manchester Evening News’ player ratings after the game, Samuel Luckhurst even put Antony down as having a 2/10 display Damning indeed.
In 32 minutes, Pellistri managed to get an assist , register a shot on target and not lose the ball once, as per FotMob, playing an integral part in the side’s late victory. In the premier League this season, Pellistri is averaging an xG of 0.38 per 90 compared to Alejandro Gernachos 0.19 xG per 90 and Antony’s lowly 0.15 xG per 90
Antony’s stats this season
Manchester United came away with a huge 1-0 win over Fulham at the weekend to stay in the race for top four. The goal came late in the game through a cracking Bruno Fernandes strike after some hard work from Facundo Pellistri to force Joao Palhinha to scuff his clearance, handing the ball straight to the United skipper at the edge of the penalty area.
Of the three right-wingers, Antony boasts the highest expected assists (xA) per 90 with 0.13 per 90 while Pellistri and Garnacho are both locked on 0.08 xA per 90. However, Pellistri is the only one with an assist to his name despite making three fewer appearances, according to FBref.
Garnacho is far more efficient at carrying the ball up the pitch than his counterparts and is averaging 7.84 progressive carries per 90 this season to Antony’s 3.65 per 90 and Pellistri’s 3.08 per 90. Meanwhile, Pellistri receives the ball in the most advanced positions, averaging 16.2 progressive passes received per 90 to Antony’s 13.3 per 90 and Garnacho’s 12.2 per 90.