Manchester United will be hoping that this summer’s departures with some unsettling influences will help repair a ruined locker room, but Erik ten Hag risks repeating the story by adding a troublemaker to his ranks
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Just as Manchester United have managed to get rid of some rotten eggs, the Red Devils risk adding another potential problem player to their ranks.
After a disastrous campaign, United immediately pressed the reset button. While Erik ten Hag has come from Ajax, a number of the club’s underperforming old guards have been relieved. The goal is to see them replaced by fresh blood in the current transfer window.
The Red Devils have so far had a stumbling start to their summer shake-up, namely encountering difficulties in their hunt for Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, but there has been a sense of renewed hope over the last few days that there are new arrivals on the way. And one such name that seems more likely to join Ten Hag’s revolution is one of his former favorites at Ajax: Antony.
The Amsterdam-based winger is set to have his heart set on a move to Manchester this summer after United indicated he is closing on a £ 40million move. But while there is no denying that the 22-year-old is blessed with abundant abilities and more than a sprinkle of samba flare, the broad man also comes with a catch: a flammable attitude.
Despite all the excitement over Antony’s deadly left foot, flamboyant flickers and youthful abundance, the talented Brazilian possesses an inexhaustible temperament. As shown during a 3-2 Eredivisie triumph for Ajax over Feyenoord back in March.
On that occasion, Anthony turned up the headlines for conflicting reasons. After hitting an astonishingly late winner, the Sao Paulo-born star was immediately booked to take off his shirt in passionate scenes.
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Moments later, the Ajax winger then received his marching orders for an annoying waste of time – an astonishing act which subsequently saw him thrown to the ground by his captain Dusan Tadic. The unpleasant episode led to Anthony being paralyzed by a number of former Dutch national team players.
Rene van der Gijp said: “Suppose we are in the stands together as a scout for Manchester City or Liverpool and we look at Antony. What do you think we would say when we return on Monday?
“We will not take that. You do not see a Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane or Mohamed Salah do this? Then you can say: he is young, but it can also get more crazy.”
Ex-Ajax ace Wim Kieft also slammed the Brazilian star, adding: “He’s not that young anymore because he’s been doing this for two years. Such a boy can ultimately not be reassured by a coach.
“[Erik] ten Hag, of course, will never say that Antony is behaving like an idiot, but he thinks so. Generally, this behavior is treated in the locker room, then someone says, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’
While Ten Hag himself acknowledged that Antony still has a lot to “learn”, he ultimately defended the winger for his jokes, insisting that he yearns for players with a seemingly stormy temperament. Ten Hag remarked, “Unnecessarily, he still has to learn it.
“But I’m also happy to have players with temperament. You need them too. He’s still young, but do not forget he’s got an incredible kick too.”
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However, Antony’s jokes should give United plenty of cause for concern. After finally relieving Paul Pogba’s disturbing influence in their quest to patch up a severely broken locker room, United could risk replacing the pair with another provocative player and repeat the story by reintroducing an unhealthy ethos. The last thing United need is to kickstart their new era by adding an explosive ego to their list.
Given United’s current team fragility, it’s a brave move by Ten Hag to throw Antony into the mix, and only time will tell whether his faith has been misplaced or not. For United’s sake, we hope the Brazilian pushes himself into the Premier League’s spotlight as a result of his undoubted abilities, not his episodes of idiocy. Ten Hag can not say he has not been warned.