Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag praised £82 million goalscoring debutant Antony for his daring and character after his team defeated Arsenal 3-1 at Old Trafford.
Antony became the Premier League’s fourth most expensive player after joining from Ajax on Thursday.
Not only for his goal, which he drove into the far corner from Marcus Rashford’s pass, but also for his celebration in front of the Arsenal fans, which earned him a yellow card from referee Paul Tierney.
“I know what he can be,” said Ten Hag. “On the pitch he is brave.
“During the transfer window we looked for players with the right character, who can fight and battle.”
Antony has character in abundance and kept running at the Arsenal defence until he was replaced by Cristiano Ronaldo just before the hour.
After his stand-off with Ajax over a move he feared was not going to happen, it was Antony’s first appearance since 14 August, so Ten Hag anticipates a player he got to know so well in Amsterdam will offer far more as the season progresses.
“He has missed some training, so he lacks a little bit of power but you can see his potential,” said Ten Hag.
“He is really good with his pace and his dribbles and also his pressing capabilities. The intensity of the Premier League is high and that is going to be a challenge for him but we have seen his potential.”
It’s hard to believe how much has changed in the three weeks since United’s humiliating 4-0 loss at Brentford on August 13.
Although protests against the club’s owners persisted inside and outside the stadium, support for the team is building among United fans.
For the first time since April 2021, United has won four consecutive games, propelling them from the bottom of the table to fifth place.
Home victories against top-six opponents Liverpool and Arsenal indicate that Ten Hag is shaping a team capable of considerably more than what United has achieved in recent seasons.
After failing to even fight for the title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, supporters are grasping at every ray of hope.
However, Ten Hag has warned the journey his side are on is at its very earliest stages. And the route ahead is long and difficult.
“I understand the fans are dreaming,” he said. “But we are at the start of a process and we are still far away.
“We have to keep pushing the attitude and mentality. We have to set high standards every day. Everyone has to bring their maximum to Carrington.
“We have to get better if we want to win trophies. There is a lot of room for improvement.”