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Antony’s importance in the Erik ten Hag system is beginning to show

It is a fresh feeling for Manchester United fans to finally see their beloved team lift a trophy after a six-year wait.

Manager Erik ten Hag has made an impressive start to his United career, and things could not have been more smooth-sailing.

However, behind the Dutchman’s success has been a well-crafted transfer strategy that has seen him bring in some exceptional talents.

The clear vision that Ten Hag brought into the United job was reflected in the purchase of Antony and Lisandro Martinez from Ajax, and Tyrell Malacia, Wout Weghorst and Casemiro, among others.

While several fans rejoiced in the rejuvenated energy and form at Old Trafford, Antony came under criticism for his lacklustre performances.

The Brazilian suffered from injuries and a lack of form, especially after the restart of the club season following the World Cup. 

However, Antony’s form has picked up. He showed in the Europa League tie against Barcelona and the Carabao Cup victory over Newcastle that he is vital to Ten Hag’s system.

Antony has proved his doubters wrong after putting in vital performances for Erik ten Hag

After costing a staggering £86 million, Antony’s life at Old Trafford started in flamboyant fashion, scoring on his debut in the Premier League.

The former Ajax star also made a name for himself after his on-the-ball antics enchanted fans and left defenders in a twisted heap. The Brazilian international was in the thick of things when it came to United’s impressive run of form. 

However, following an injury and the World Cup, Antony’s form dipped. The creative sensation struggled to weave webs around defenders and failed to get on the scoresheet.

Several fans and critics argued the youngster was too one-dimensional in his game, only using one foot and struggling to supply crosses.

The only way Antony looked to score was to cut back on his left side and shoot from the edge of the penalty box. The 23-year-old also failed to play important passes, with his crosses often going awry.

While the criticism seemed valid to many people, Erik ten Hag kept faith in the youngster, giving him regular chances in the starting line-up.

He is now showcasing his attacking prowess with impressive performances. Antony’s resurgence was marked by a sensational game against Barcelona, where he scored the match-winning goal with his trusted left foot. 

Antony is the man with the sensationalism that often leaves defenders in two minds. He keeps opponents on their toes and leaves them reeling, finding spaces and freeing up the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford.

His unique dribbling ability also attracts two defenders toward him, leaving United’s full-backs with space to deliver a cross. 

In the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle, Antony proved to be a menace for Joe Burn and Joelinton.

The Brazilian played 83 minutes in the game and was the catalyst behind several United attacks emanating from the right wing.

Ten Hag understands that with Rashford in sensational scoring form and Fernandes playing his best games from the centre of the field, Antony is his go-to man for a creative outlet on the right flank.

While several aspects of his game, such as crossing and his ability with his right foot, still require improvement, Antony has shown United fans that Ten Hag made a smart decision in signing him.