Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag singled out £82million debutant Antony for his courage and character after the Brazilian helped his team to success 3-1 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford.
Antony became the fourth most expensive player in the Premier League following his move from Ajax on Thursday.
The 22-year-old was already becoming a crowd favorite, not only for his goal, which was cornered by Marcus Rashford, but also for his celebration in front of Arsenal fans, which was ticked off by referee Paul Tierney .
“I know what he can be,” said Ten Hag. “He’s brave on the pitch.
“During the transfer window we have been looking for players with the right character who can fight and fight.”
Antony has character in abundance and continued to run in Arsenal defense until he was replaced by Cristiano Ronaldo just before the hour mark.
After his confrontation with Ajax over a move he feared wouldn’t happen, it was Antony’s first appearance since August 14, so Ten Hag assumes it’s a player he got to know so well in Amsterdam , will offer many more as the season progresses.
“He’s missed some training so he’s lacking some strength but you can see his potential,” said Ten Hag.
“He’s really good with his pace and dribbling and also with his pressing ability. The intensity of the Premier League is high and that will be a challenge for him but we saw his potential.”
“Lots of room for improvement”
It’s hard to believe how the mood around Old Trafford has changed in the three weeks since the embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Brentford on August 13.
Although protests against the club’s owners have continued both inside and outside the stadium, support for the team is growing within the United fan base.
Four straight wins for the first time since April 2021 have taken United from bottom of the table to fifth. Home wins over top-six rivals Liverpool and Arsenal suggest Ten Hag are shaping a side far better than United have been in recent seasons.
After Sir Alex Ferguson failed to even challenge for the title in 2013, it’s no wonder supporters cling to every reason for optimism.
However, Ten Hag has warned that the journey his side is on is just beginning. And the road ahead is long and difficult.
“I understand the fans are dreaming,” he said. “But we are at the beginning of a process and are still a long way from it.
“We need to keep pushing the attitude and mentality. We have to set high standards every day. Everyone has to do their best at Carrington.
“We have to get better if we want to win trophies. There is a lot of room for improvement.”
- Our coverage of your Premier League club is bigger and better than ever – here it is Everything you need to know to make sure you don’t miss a moment