“He can do better, I see space for improvement” – Ten Hag defends under-fire Man Utd forward

By | January 25, 2023

Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has insisted that the Red Devils are a better team with Antony in it amid the recent criticism of the Brazil international.

The 22-year-old has scored five goals in 19 appearances for Man United since his arrival last summer, but his overall contribution to the team has been called into question.

Antony has either been substituted on or substituted off in his side’s last three Premier League matches, with his last full game coming against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the end of December.

Ten Hag has defended the Brazilian, who cost the Red Devils in the region of £86m towards the end of the summer transfer window.

However, the Man United head coach has said that Antony “can do better”, with the attacker still getting used a new environment following his time in the Netherlands.

“When he’s playing, the team is winning. That already gives a message of how well he is performing,” Ten Hag told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

“He can do better, I see space for improvement. For instance, and I think also you know this, we want him to be more direct and be more involved. But, as I said, the team is performing better if he is on the pitch.

“That’s a good thing, that’s a good base to build further. I think he has already made an improvement. In his first three [league] games, he scored three goals.

“Now he was scoring against Everton, he was scoring against Charlton, so also that fact, he has an impact. But I think with his capabilities, with his talents, he can do even more. But as I said, I think he has [made] a good contribution in the team.”

Antony took to social media earlier this week to look ahead to an “important week” for the Red Devils.

“Important week for us! Seeking to evolve to give my best to the team! It has always been a dream to be here and I will give all I have to honour this club because we are stronger together,” he wrote on Twitter.

Ten Hag’s side will travel to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night for the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final before welcoming Reading to Old Trafford in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Man United will then host Forest for the return League Cup fixture next week ahead of returning to Premier League action at home to Crystal Palace on February 4.

Antony scored in his first three Premier League appearances against Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton, but he has not found the back of the net in England’s top flight since.

The South American, though, has netted twice this month against Everton and Charlton Athletic in the FA Cup and EFL Cup respectively.