ERIK TEN HAG has launched a defence of £86million star Antony after he was slammed as a “YouTube player”.
The Brazilian joined Manchester United last summer but has had some negative attention for his flashy playstyle.
The 22-year-old has scored five times for the club in his 19 appearances in all competitions.
However, he has not registered a single assist and is often caught performing skill moves when they might not be necessary.
And manager Ten Hag has defended the player, although insisted that he can improve.
He said: “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 [Premier League] games, he scored three goals. Now he was scoring against Everton [in the FA Cup], he was scoring against Charlton [in the Carabao Cup], so also that fact, he has an impact.
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“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.”
The message came before United’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest as they look to earn their spot in the final.
Neville’s comments came after Antony was subbed against Arsenal, as he spoke on The Gary Neville Podcast: “I wish they had better quality up front in the final third.
Obviously Sancho’s not out there and you would expect that Manchester United would have better options from the bench, but they haven’t at this moment in time.
“I want to see a little bit more from Antony, to be honest with you. £90million signing.
“I think that to have to take him off is a disappointment because you’d like to think that, like Martinelli and Saka, who are also young players, that Rashford and Antony could have been the ones on the other side of it that could have counter-attacked for United.”
Neville went on to suggest that the former Ajax star still has “a bit of work to do”, should he want to improve at United.
He added: “It’s just not quite happening for him at this moment in time.
“He’s got a bit of work to do.
“He’s got obviously some growth to go through and obviously, he’s newer to England than the other two are, but they’re little complaints at this moment in time.”