Erik ten Hag: Antony’s domestic violence allegations have impacted Man Utd form

Erik ten Hag: Antony's domestic violence allegations have impacted his Man Utd form
Antony is yet to score or provide an assist this season - Shutterstock/Adam Vaughan

Erik ten Hag has told Antony he must “do better” and start delivering after claiming the assault allegations levelled at Manchester United’s £85 million winger have affected his form.

Antony is still being investigated by police in England and Brazil over allegations he assaulted former girlfriend Gabriela Cavallin, which he strenuously denies.

The Brazil international has not registered a goal or assist this season and the pressure to justify his huge price tag has intensified in the wake of Jadon Sancho’s departure on loan to Borussia Dortmund this week.

Sancho is the latest big-money recruit to flop at United and the England international’s exit until the end of the season has sharpened the spotlight on fellow winger Antony to start showing why the club made him the second most expensive player in their history, with fans losing patience.

Ten Hag believes Antony is still being troubled by the off-field issues that led to him taking a month’s paid leave earlier in the season, but claims the player brought those problems on himself and it is now on him to get things right on the pitch.

Asked if Antony was still being affected by the problems in his ­private life, the United manager said: “It has had an effect, it has had an impact on him, definitely. So he has to deal with that. He has to sort them out but we will give all the support but, yeah, he has to do better.”

Ten Hag is confident Antony can still replicate the form he showed with Ajax in the Eredivisie and the Champions League at United, but accepts the challenge is greater.

“I think his ­off-field issues stop him playing,” Ten Hag said when quizzed about Antony’s poor form ahead of the visit of Tottenham on Sunday. “I think [his] first year was OK and I think the pre-season was very OK. The first four games [of this season] were very good, for instance I’ve seen the game against Spurs back and he played a very good game. But from the moment he was out and then he came back and didn’t deliver the performances you should expect from him and he can do so much better.

“You mention Ajax, also I look back there – his effectiveness, his end product was higher and also in the Champions League was high. So I’m sure he’s capable of doing this by bringing key actions, key passes, the crosses, the finishing, his end product in Ajax was very high and he should return to that level. But, of course, the Premier League is more difficult but he’s capable of doing that.”

Martinez, Casemiro and Shaw in contention to face Spurs

Antony’s struggles and Sancho’s departure, albeit temporarily, have raised fresh questions about the way United have spent money in the decade since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. United have lavished £50 million or more on 13 players, five of whom have been signed by Ten Hag – Antony, Rasmus Hojlund, Casemiro, Mason Mount and Lisandro Martinez.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who plans to be at Old Trafford for Sunday’s match, is expected to lead an overhaul of United’s recruitment department once his £1.3 billion deal for a 29 per cent stake in the club, that will mean he takes complete control of football operations, gains regulatory approval. A new director of football is likely but Ten Hag has defended his transfer record and says it is still too early to judge many of his signings.

“Everything is highlighted at the moment because the performances aren’t there,” the manager said. “But don’t forget, last season ­everyone was saying how the ­signings for Manchester United were very good because, as a team, we performed.

“Everyone was saying how great Licha Martinez was doing, everyone was telling me Christian Eriksen was a top signing, Tyrell Malacia very smart. Then we had Antony, who was doing OK. Casemiro? Brilliant, everyone was saying last season. So we must judge them in the moment.

“All the signings are top players and we have to find a way to perform as a team and a club and then we will judge them very differently. We have to perform together because all of those players are very good signings.”

Meanwhile, Ten Hag says Martinez, who has not played since late September, and Casemiro, who has been out for 2½ months, are in contention for selection against Spurs in a huge boost. Luke Shaw, who has been sidelined for three weeks, Eriksen, Antony and Amad Diallo could also be involved as the cavalry prepares to return, according to the manager.

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