Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has hailed Antony as ‘top level’ following his debut goal against Arsenal most recently. The former England international is also impressed by how Erik ten Hag has taken charge at Old Trafford and implemented discipline in the dressing room, which it lacked previously.
The Red Devils have made a solid start to the season despite opening defeats to Brighton and Brentford, winning their last four matches. Ten Hag’s side have looked like a new and improved unit, reaping the benefits of their summer spending spree.
After last season’s disappointment, investment was much needed at Old Trafford – and the new management were able to orchestrate a reshuffle worth over £200million to freshen up the squad. Speaking on Stripped with Specs and Vuj, Ferdinand spoke of how he felt his former club still enjoyed a great window, eventually, despite their diminishing ‘pulling power’.
He explained: “The transfer window went from laughing stock to ‘Oh this is serious’, because of the pulling power, the badge. It’s not as strong as it was, but Casemiro going from five Champions Leagues at Real Madrid, being comfortable there to going to United. I know there’s money involved that will sway him I am sure, but still, he’s got to think ‘I am going to Man United’, that’s a big pull.
“Antony, getting him. We chased De Jong, that got put to the side but you get Martinez and Malacia and you’re thinking ‘Hold on a minute’, the window’s closed, two games in it’s the same old story, it’s embarrassing, but all of a sudden, he’s had a little bit more time and now things are starting to look a little bit more steady.”
Ten Hag was keen throughout the summer to reunite with players he had worked with previously, with Antony and Lisandro Martinez both being purchased from his former club Ajax and therefore comfortable with his methods. Though his recruitment was not only what Ferdinand is a fan of, as 43-year-old continued: “I like that he has brought discipline, I just like some of the soundbites I am hearing from him.
“One of the things I liked the most that he said was he was asked if he was happy with the players brought in, he said ‘I am happy with the people that I have bought’.
“Not just the players, the people. I was asking ‘Where’s the character and the personalities in the team? When the chips are down who is there to fight and lead the dressing room?’ And he has bought it seems good characters, Casemiro an obvious one, Martinez we don’t know too much but what we’ve seen at the moment he’s a good character, the right sort you want in war and in games.
“Antony looks like he wants to be the main man and is enjoying the limelight, only one game but you can see he had one moment in the game and scored, that’s top level.”
Antony arrived from Ajax in a deal worth £86m, with his versatility across the frontline seen as a valuable asset as well as his potential – given that he is only 22.