‘Space for improvement’ – Ten Hag sends clear message to £85m Man Utd star amid criticism

Date published: Wednesday 25th January 2023 9:10 - Ben Stewart

Erik ten Hag manager of Manchester United with Antony of Manchester United during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London.

Erik ten Hag has had his say on the form of Brazilian winger Antony as the winger has come in for criticism of late from several pundits.

Antony started out life at Old Trafford well with a goal on his debut against Arsenal. It can’t be denied that his form has taken a dip as of late though.

Rio Ferdinand recently claimed: “The concerning thing for me with somebody like Antony is that he can’t beat anyone – and for a Brazilian that’s surprising!

“He just doesn’t beat anyone and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Was that always the way?’ I’ve seen clips of him when he was at Ajax and he was somebody who used to beat people.”

Ten Hag has offered a response to the criticism and has detailed the areas of Antony’s game which need to improve.

The manager explained (via Manchester Evening News): “I think he is not losing games. When he is playing and the team is winning and that already gives a message of how well he is performing.

“He can do better, I see space for improvement and, for instance – and I think you notice – we want him to be more direct, more involved. But the team is performing better if he is on the pitch and that is a good thing, a good base to build further on.

“I think he already makes improvement, he scored some goals, he scored in his first three games, now he scores against Everton and Charlton, so he has an impact.

“But I think with his capabilities, with his talents he can do even more. He has a good contribution in the team.”

Ten Hag previously worked with Antony during his time at Ajax and he clearly sees the potential that the Brazilian star has to offer.

The winger was involved in a heated exchange with Bruno Fernandes after he misplaced a pass against Crystal Palace during the 1-1 draw.

Ten Hag added: “That can happen. They are both players who play also with the heart and when they bring that in the game, they are at their best.

“So it is always getting a balance, sometimes emotions slide up. In the second moment already they are good enough with each other. So that is not a problem and definitely the players are not frustrated with him.”

Darren Bent has been another pundit who has recently gone in on the United winger due to his dip in form.

The pundit claimed: “He’s doing all this stuff but he’s not going past anyone. It’s not like he’s doing a trick to manipulate the ball to go past someone, he’s just doing it for the sake of it.

“A little bit like the spin, at the time I was like ‘ah come on it’s only a spin’.

“You clip all the best bits of a footballer and you look at it on YouTube and go ‘wow, I can’t believe we’re signing him!’

“But where’s the substance in between, where’s the end product? I know he started off alright at United, couple of good goals, but where’s the end product?”

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