Home » Gary Neville believes Antony must use Riyad Mahrez as an example

Gary Neville believes Antony must use Riyad Mahrez as an example

Brazil star told he must become less predictable to succeed at Manchester United

by David O'Neill

Gary Neville criticised Manchester United’s Antony during the Red Devils’ Carabao Cup clash with Nottingham Forest yesterday and insists that the for Sao Paulo star must take a leaf out of Riyad Mahrez’s book is he is to improve.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about Antony in the last few days, and about how he’s got to develop [like] that Mahrez one at City, whereby that’s a right-footed one,” said Neville during his commentary for Sky Sports.

“He’s got to learn to be able to think that people are … the defender is going to try to cut off that left foot, but then he might just fake to go there and then go back outside on the right.

“At the moment he’s still that little bit predictable. Trying to force it onto that left foot. Defenders are just shutting him off.”

Antony has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks, with many observers criticising United for spending as much as they did on the Brazilian.

It is perhaps worth pointing out that Mahrez – a player fully accustomed to Premier League football before his transfer – took a full season of adaptation before becoming a key player at City.

His first campaign saw a return of eight goals, only three more than Antony has managed in a United shirt in around half the time.

Neville does raise some valid points around Antony’s predictability, however, and the winger could stand to mix up his game in the final third a little more.

It is unlikely that he suddenly develops a good right foot, but during his time at Ajax, Antony was very effective when using the outside of his left boot to curl crosses into the front post, or chip over the defence, as he demonstrated when setting up Bruno Fernandes for a chance yesterday.

It is curious that fans have seen him perform such actions on so rare a basis, with the Brazilian almost always opting for the shooting chance with his instep.

One-footed or not, Antony very much does have the tools to go down the outside, where he can become a more effective creator of chances at Old Trafford.

Whether it is a newfound selfishness or a desperation to prove himself that needs to be reined in is unclear.

It may even be a result of the differing styles of attack between this United side and the one Ten Hag managed at Ajax.

The Eredivisie champions were notorious for flooding the penalty box with numbers, whereas many of United’s attackers often prefer to receive the ball facing up against the opposition defence.

The addition of Wout Weghorst and the promising partnership he seems to be forging with Bruno Fernandes may well have the knock-on effect of persuading Antony that a ball into the danger zone will be met.

In any case, his focus must be on creating chances for his teammates as – while his goal output and work off the ball have been good so far – his creativity is lacking.

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