Erik ten Hag backed to drop Antony as winger told to ‘stop doing stupid things’

The pressure has eased on Erik ten Hag after Man Utd defeated Fulham

Dimitar Berbatov has urged Antony to tone down his ‘stupid’ tricks and focus on helping his Manchester United team-mates in order to avoid being dropped by Erik ten Hag. Antony has struggled to impress since joining the Red Devils last year but has continued to feature regularly under Ten Hag, who previously managed him at Ajax and has stuck by the winger in spite of his poor recent form.

Antony has failed to score or provide an assist for United in all competitions this season, leading to widespread criticism of his muted performances out wide. He has looked a shadow of the player that excelled for Ajax with his dazzling trickery and quick feet, which earned him a big-money move to Old Trafford two summers ago.

Berbatov has since urged Antony to make rapid improvements to avoid being axed by Ten Hag, with his ‘stupid tricks’ not doing him any favours when there is no end product to go alongside them.

“Ten Hag is giving Antony his trust,” Berbatov told Betfair. “Antony needs to know that every time he steps on the pitch, he needs to justify Ten Hag’s trust, work his socks off to show, ‘yes boss, you’re trusting me, I don’t want to let you or the team down’.

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“However, right now, it’s not working well for Antony, so my piece of advice would be to keep it simple, don’t overcomplicate stuff. The moment you start thinking you’re Ronaldinho or [Zinedine] Zidane while you’re struggling in games, you’re going to suffer even more. Don’t try to do stupid things like tricks that are not beneficial for the team.

“You’re so quick, use your pace to get in behind the defence, get on the ball and start to record assists or shoot to score. That’s how simple it is. Stay disciplined and concentrated. It’s not so difficult. I wouldn’t be surprised if Antony doesn’t play the next game, though, because everyone saw he wasn’t at his best against Fulham, so let’s see what Ten Hag decides.”

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It has recently been suggested that Antony could leave United in January after less than two full seasons at Old Trafford if he fails to improve between now and then. The Mirror reported last week that United were plotting a part-exchange deal for Flamengo forward Gabriel Barbosa that would see Antony move in the other direction on loan.

Ten Hag, meanwhile, recently pointed to the ‘noise’ around Antony’s personal life as a factor which has impacted his form throughout the current campaign. The former Ajax winger has faced allegations of domestic abuse over the last few months, with police in Manchester and Sao Paulo investigating the claims.

“The team is not playing well when we don’t bring him the balls and I am also responsible for that,” said Ten Hag earlier this month. “Obviously, there was also a lot of noise and that dropped his levels. He can do better but all the players can do better. Antony is also a fighter, he has the confidence, he is brave and I am confident he will bring the performance that he is the right player for us.”

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