Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag made it clear that he has been encouraged by Antony’s recent progress at Old Trafford after the Brazilian winger found the back of the net against Everton on Sunday evening. The Red Devils went a goal behind early on when Alex Iwobi picked out the top corner from range but managed to get back on level terms through Antony, who equalised with a fine finish just 10 minutes later.
United went on to wrap up an important victory before the half-time whistle, with Cristiano Ronaldo firing home to claim all three points for the visitors at Goodison Park. It was Antony who was singled out for special praise by Erik ten Hag after the match, though, with the Dutchman insisting that he has been left impressed by the 22-year-old’s progress in recent weeks and backing him to keep improving as he continues to find his feet in the Premier League.
“We have to expect more from him,” explained the United boss. “He needs challenges, that’s why he came to the Premier League, he gets it here. He wants to play with the best players, the highest stress factors against the best players and from then on he will step up.
“That’s what you see: first weeks, he scored goals, he did good stuff, but also I saw a lot of room for improvement in his game, and what I was happy with the goal he made now was out of the moment of getting in behind. He has to do that more, he has to use his space.
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“He has a good dribble, but he needs more variation. In the first game, he was not always that good defending-wise but today he was really good, really disciplined. He had good positioning, good anticipation, so he had quite an impact on this team’s performance.
“He can [go on the outside more], it’s preferred and he had to go both ways, you have to work on that point and we already did in Amsterdam with him, working on that and he can also cross with his right foot. He is a young player we have to develop but he has to develop himself.”
Antony has started in every Premier League match for United since joining the club from Ajax on the final day of the summer transfer window, chipping in with three goals in the process. He got off the mark for the Red Devils against Arsenal prior to the international break and grabbed a consolation in the heavy defeat at Manchester City before making his latest contribution against Everton on Sunday.
However, it remains to be seen if Antony will be able to keep living up to his £85million price tag by maintaining his prolific form in front of goal over the coming weeks and months. Ten Hag will be desperately hoping that he stays firing on all cylinders for as long as possible in order to boost United’s hopes of securing Champions League qualification this season despite being outsiders in the race to secure a top-four finish.
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