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Man United and Erik ten Hag must take responsibility Antony and Casemiro struggles despite huge price tags

Man United and Erik ten Hag must take responsibility Antony and Casemiro struggles despite huge price tags

Gary Neville believes that Manchester United are to blame for the criticism being taken by Antony and Casemiro, saying that they ‘panicked’ to sign them.

The Red Devils continue to struggle in the Premier League after falling to a 2-1 defeat against Nottingham Forest, leaving them in seventh position as we prepare to enter 2024.

Antony endured another afternoon to forget against Nottingham Forest


Antony endured another afternoon to forget against Nottingham ForestCredit: Getty

While few of Erik ten Hag‘s players are performing well on a consistent basis, Antony is one player who attracts more than his fair share of criticism due to the £85million price tag that was paid to bring him to Old Trafford from Ajax 18 months ago.

In that time, the Brazilian has scored just eight times in 65 games, providing three assists along the way, leading many to question the transfer fee paid for him.

He isn’t the only attacking star failing to perform, with only Burnley and Sheffield United scoring fewer than United’s 22 in the Premier League so far this term.

Casemiro also arrived in 2022 for £60million from Real Madrid and has failed to show his quality on a consistent basis, but according to Neville the responsibility for their poor form falls with the club and Erik ten Hag, not the players themselves.


He told Sky Sports: “That’s the one that’s going to stand out on Erik ten Hag, that £85million on Antony where he’s obviously nowhere near that level, but even £70-odd million on Hojlund or £55million on Mason Mount or £50million on Casemiro on a five-year deal is a lot of money.

“There’s a lot of deals that you can start to look at with a glass-half-empty, but gone are the days where Sir Alex Ferguson would have travelled three or four nights a week to watch other players there’d have been a chief scout, a head of academy and recruitment.

“He’d go and watch games at night then go and watch the academy on a Saturday morning and then go with the first team on a Saturday afternoon.

“The head coaches that are at these clubs – maybe apart from Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp who have their foundations set – they come in for one or two years and think ‘I’ve really got to get these players right’ and they are transient roles at football clubs.

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However Gary Neville thinks that Ten Hag must be held responsible for Antony's struggles


However Gary Neville thinks that Ten Hag must be held responsible for Antony’s strugglesCredit: Getty

“They’re concentrating so much on coaching the team that the people who are watching players around the world have to be trusted to bring forward the right players for Ten Hag.

“What looks to have happened is that Man United’s recruitment department can’t have gone to watch Antony and signed him off at £85million – it looks like they’ve allowed Erik ten Hag to overrule them which is worrying because you need strength of leadership at the very top.

“He’s got two things; he can go on his left and whip in a cross or go inside and try to get a shot away – that was Riyad Mahrez’s game for five or six years at Leicester or Manchester City but he’s nowhere near Mahrez.

“He doesn’t look like he’s had any work on him and that’s maybe a bit of an insult to the coaches at Man United. I know Steve McClaren and I can’t believe that he’s not speaking to Antony and telling him to simplify his game a little bit.

“When you get it, just try and drift it into an area at the back post – you might put a goal on the training pitch and get him to do it 30 times. It’s this consistency and repetition that you might see when developing young wingers and wide players when you know they’re inconsistent.

“I do have my fears that the temperament is not there from Antony and that the consistency is not there but he does have something in that he takes the ball every single time and wants it every single time.

Antony looks bereft of confidence at present


Antony looks bereft of confidence at presentCredit: Getty

“There are some players on the pitch who don’t, but I think that he does. Garnacho wants the ball and can beat players, Antony doesn’t have the confidence to beat players but he does show for it.

“He’s so frustrating, but I blame the football club for bringing him in at £85million. It’s not that boy’s fault that he’s been brought in as one of the most expensive wide players in world football. He should never have been brought in for that money.

“A manager at a football club will want a lot of players and sometimes as an owner you’ve got to say no. They should have said no to Antony – not because they’re not supporting Ten Hag but because the money was too much. Same with Casemiro, if he comes in at £15million and he’s on £100,000 a week on a three-year deal then bring him in. For a £60million on a five-year deal at £20million a year, you don’t bring him in.

“There’s got to be a no at that kind of money and with Erik ten Hag and Antony there was a report that scouts put a figure of £25-£30million on Antony – I’d say if we were looking at a £25million winger out there then we’d be looking at him completely differently.

“What happened with Antony and Casemiro is that they got beaten by Brighton and then got beaten 4-0 by Brentford and there was an eight-day gap where all hell was breaking loose with the owners and the fans.

“There was a massive crisis, massive pressure and there was a match against Liverpool coming up where everyone thought they would come and beat Man United, so what do the Glazers do? They pump up the money to get the fans onside.

The signing of Casemiro has also been questioned by Neville


The signing of Casemiro has also been questioned by NevilleCredit: Getty

“They offer £60million for Casemiro and Real Madrid can’t believe their luck that they got offered their luck and Casemiro couldn’t believe his luck.

“Then Antony, Ajax had already done their business and couldn’t believe that Man United had come in with £85million and thought ‘we’re going to have to sell him’ because Man United were in panic mode.

“I get that you’ve got to back a manager, but when you’ve not got strong leadership, that’s when a manager starts to rule the roost.

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“Because he’d got Champions League football and had a good first season, Ten Hag gained power and the people at the club didn’t have the skill or the ability or competence to say no to him because they panicked and brought them in.”

Man United are next in action on January 9 when they face Wigan Ahtletic in the FA Cup third round.

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