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Antony told to “step up” with Manchester United position under threat after pre-season



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Credit: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Manchester United winger Antony has been told he must step up under Erik ten Hag after pre-season performances hint his position may be under threat.

Antony operated almost exclusively on Manchester United‘s right-wing last season, with the winger signing for around £85 million for Erik ten Hag in August 2022.

The Brazilian winger scored eight goals and provided three assists in 44 appearances last term, including scoring the club’s goal of the season in a thrilling 2-1 Old Trafford win over Barcelona.

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Antony’s signing was met with mixed emotions, as was his opening campaign at United – and ex-Manchester United defender Jaap Stam believes the 23-year-old must “step up a gear”.

“You know Antony’s got quality, of course, on the ball,” Stam told club media. “He’s got decent pace, even if he’s not lightning. He needs to become, and I know we were talking about being predictable in a way of playing, then he needs to step up a gear to make a change.

“As a winger, you always need to be very decisive. You need to take initiative on the ball. You need to go forward. You need to take on your one-v-ones and you need to make it difficult for your opposition by, one time, going inside and, the other time, going outside.”

Antony has not been too involved in pre-season so far, despite playing several games. The attacking standout so far this summer has been Jadon Sancho, who has been operating in both central and wide roles – and is Antony’s direct competition for the right-wing position.

Sancho, after two years of ups and downs at United, seems to be settling well into the front line so far in pre-season and poses a real threat to Antony in reclaiming his right-wing spot for the start of the 2023/24 season.

Ten Hag is said to be keen to find a role for Sancho in the coming season, believing he still has qualities to significantly contribute to his squad.

“Of course, that’s the thing that I think he (Antony) still needs to do a little bit more,” Stam continued. “But we know him from Holland as well. We know his ability and his quality. And I think he can step up, you know, one or two gears.

“So he needs to show that this season. He had last season as well to get adjusted to the league and to get adjusted to the opposition he’s facing as well.

“So it is going to be exciting to see how he’s going to be changing his game next season.”