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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Antony’s Man Utd career already stuttering with some embarrassing moments in tow

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IT was the stop-start cameo which in many ways perfectly summed up Antony’s first four months at Manchester United. Ten minutes into the second half he slipped a bog standard pass to Diogo Dalot, on United’s right flank, 25 yards from the opposition goal. 2Antony poked home Manchester United’s openerCredit: Getty 2But the rest of his performance yielded a frustrating gameCredit: Getty Dalot rolled the perfect ball back beyond the Everton defence, where he thought Antony was running…only to see it drift harmlessly out for a goal kick. Instead of going for the return, Antony was rooted to the spot. Not so much stop-start, as start then stop. Which is how life at Old Trafford has been for the Brazilian since his £82 million arrival from Ajax last summer. An eye-watering fee, but one Erik ten Hag felt worth paying for a young man with a reputation as one of Europe’s best wingers. And when Antony marked his debut against Arsenal with the opener in a 3-1 win, the Stretford End did indeed appear to have a new hero. Yet in reality that was probably as good as it got for the South American before he headed off to the World Cup. Yes, there were another couple of goals – one of the compensation strikes in an Etihad derby hiding – and the first in the league win at Everton. But there were also horrible moments. Embarrassing moments. Frustrating, frayed-temper moments. Most read in FA Cup BETTING SPECIAL – BEST FOOTBALL BETTING SITES IN THE UK None worse than the showboating spin against FC Sheriff in the Europa League, followed by a pass straight into touch. That was the last we saw of Antony until domestic action resumed after Qatar, although Ten Hag insisted he hadn’t featured because of injury. Whether it had been enough to keep him out for the five games it did is questionable, and the manager was fuming enough to say he “would correct him” after that spin. Ironically it was one of the things which had the Old Trafford crowd on its feet…and he’d done precious little for too long before that. It was the same again here against Everton. Three minutes on the clock he was sliding United’s opener into an empty net with a superbly timed far post arrival to meet Marcus Rashford’s cross. But if the fans thought that would be the injection of confidence he needed, how wrong they were. Instead it was a cut inside or, worse still, a cut back. Rarely even an attempt to take on his full back, aside of one flash of magic near the end, before he was eventually hooked. Ultimately it didn’t stop United’s progress into the fourth round. Yet even that, rather like Antony’s Old Trafford career, was more stuttering than full steam ahead.

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