- The Brazilian winger has fallen out of favor in the Manchester United squad
- Antony now has to prove himself to return to Erik ten Hag’s plans.
- If Jurgen Klopp had said 12 months ago that he was leaving, Mauricio Pochettino would have fitted in well at Liverpool. Podcast Everything is beginning
All Antonio could do was sit and watch. First, because 19-year-old Omari Forson overlooked him and was making his first start in the Premier League. Then Forson came out and Scott McTominay came in, pushing Bruno Fernandes towards the right wing. The next to be called to the stage was Amad Diallo, who is participating in the league for the second time this season.
When Antony was finally summoned from his warm spot on the bench, a place that has become his home since the defeat at Nottingham Forest on December 30, there were only 30 seconds left.
Grass had barely held on to his cleats when Michael Oliver blew the final whistle. United had lost for the first time in 2024, their unbeaten run was over and Fulham were worthy winners, even if it took a 97th-minute goal from Alex Iwobi.
But this was United’s tenth league defeat this season, so the bigger story at play here was that Antony, an in-form Antony, found himself with fifth choice in his own position. So much for having a birthday to remember.
Thinking back 17 months ago, when Antony posed for photographs in a Manchester United shirt for the first time after sealing an £86million transfer, it came with a lot of optimism and faith.
Antony’s problems at Manchester United have seen him fall down the pecking order in his favored position on the right.
Antony only came off the bench in Man United’s weekend defeat against Fulham with 30 seconds remaining.
Antony was ignored by 19-year-old Omari Forson against Fulham, who was making his debut as a starter in the Premier League.
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“Playing with Erik ten Hag at Ajax was perfect for me and my development,” he said.
“His style of football and training brings out the best in me and I am excited by what he has told me about his plans and ambitions in Manchester.”
He came in as a favorite of Ten Hag, one of his trusted lieutenants, but now he’s a player Ten Hag seems reluctant to use even to run out the clock. The plan now is to keep him as far away from match action as possible. His stock has never been lower.
“It had nothing to do with fitness,” Ten Hag said after the 2-1 defeat.
The Dutchman was in no mood to invent a story that would spare Antonio public humiliation.
“He is fit, but we have a lot of options on the right; we are missing other positions due to injuries.”
“We have all seen Antony’s form and he has to take a step forward. I see it in training but also Omari Forson, Amad Diallo and Garnacho deserve to play.”
Even when United were chugging along here, lacking creativity and attacking presence, no one outside of the Fulham persuasion was calling for the introduction of the 24-year-old Brazilian.
Without a goal or an assist in 20 league games this season, faith in him to turn the tide of games has long faded.
That’s the challenge for Antony now: changing the narrative. Ten Hag tries to win games and doesn’t think Antony can help him do it. Fans want to see inexperienced youngsters play ahead of him. Experts have long since stopped including him in the planned XI.
Antony arrived at the club as Ten Hag’s favorite, but the Dutchman is now reluctant to use him
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag scathingly analyzed that Antony “has to prove something”
“He has to prove something,” Ten Hag said Friday, appearing to leave the door slightly ajar. ‘He has great potential. He hasn’t shown it lately but I know what his talent is. It’s about showcasing his talent and it’s about him.”
If there was ever a week for Antony to make a statement, this is it. An FA Cup fifth round clash at Forest, where he last started in the league, before the small matter of a Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium against Man City.
‘Thank you to all the people who have told me I can’t. “You’re just another reason why I’ll do it,” Manny Pacquiao once said.
If Antonio has any fighting spirit left, now is the time to show it.