Erik ten Hag comments on Man Utd's January transfer plans
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The right-wing has long been a problem for Manchester United. And Antony is the latest player to struggle in that area of attack for the Red Devils, with the Brazil international toiling in their 3-2 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday. The curse is yet to be lifted – and whether the 22-year-old can bounce back after his poor showing remains to be seen.
There were some poor performers for United on Sunday as they slumped to a fifth Premier League defeat of the season.
Scott McTominay failed to impose himself, with the Scotland international starting in the absence of the suspended Casemiro following the veteran’s fifth yellow card of the season against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
Luke Shaw was accused of being ‘scared’ of Bukayo Saka, with the left-back given the runaround by his compatriot.
And Wout Weghorst offered precious little up top, with more questions being asked of United’s decision to sign the Netherlands international as a result.
Antony, however, was arguably the worst player on the pitch at the Emirates Stadium.
The 22-year-old produced his usual tricks and flicks, nutmegging a few Arsenal players during the course of the high-octane contest.
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Yet his end product was lacking and it’s clear he’s not operating at the peak of his powers, even if he did score in recent victories over Everton and Charlton.
With Erik ten Hag hooking his former Ajax star in the 71st minute, replacing him with Fred, it’s clear the United star has work to do.
And Antony is now the latest player to struggle on the right-wing of the club’s attack, an area the club have had their fair share of problems with over the years.
That flank used to be occupied by Cristiano Ronaldo during his first spell at Old Trafford, with the forward becoming a club legend during that stint.
But, ever since his move to Real Madrid in 2009, the club have been cursed.
Antonio Valencia did, of course, do well enough during his time at United.
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Yet even when operating at the peak of his powers, he was never a player close to replicating Ronaldo’s achievements at the club.
The same can be said for Nani, too, who always seemed to prefer playing on the left wing instead.
And ever since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, more and more players have found it a difficult area to occupy.
Many thought United would be solving their woes in that position when they recruited Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid back in the summer transfer window of 2014.
Yet Louis van Gaal preferred to play the Argentina international in the middle of the park instead and he lasted just a year before joining Paris Saint-Germain.
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United believed Henrikh Mkhitaryan would be the solution when Jose Mourinho prised him away from Borussia Dortmund upon taking charge in 2016.
But while the Armenia international performed well in the Europa League, his lack of consistency meant he spent just 18 months with the Red Devils before leaving for Arsenal.
As part of Mkhitaryan’s move to the Emirates, Alexis Sanchez rocked up at Old Trafford.
Yet he also preferred playing on the left and is now regarded as one of United’s worst-ever signings, netting just five times while pocketing roughly £400,000-a-week.
For a while, Mason Greenwood was seen as a potential option there.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer always preferred playing the attacker down the middle, instead of out wide, and he has since been suspended by the club for a year.
Solskjaer also signed Jadon Sancho back in the summer of 2021, with the England international arriving for a huge fee of £73million.
However, 18 months on from his arrival, and he’s currently training at Carrington having last featured in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in October.
United’s right wing has been cursed for years, now.
And Antony will need to knuckle down and go again if he’s to become player Ten Hag believes he can be.
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