UEL: Ten Hag explains why he substituted Antony at halftime during Man United’s win.

  • Erik ten Hag reveals the real reason he subbed off Antony at half-time of Manchester United’s victory over FC Sheriff

UEL: Ten Hag explains why he substituted Antony at halftime during Man United's win.
UEL: Ten Hag explains why he substituted Antony at halftime during Man United’s win.

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has explained the main reason he substituted Antony at half-time of Manchester United’s victory over FC Sheriff in the Europa League.

 Ten Hag has refuted claims that he replaced Antony against FC Sheriff at halftime as a result of his theatrics in the first half.

The Red Devils won 3-0 at Old Trafford on Thursday to maintain their chances of winning their Europa League group. If they defeat Real Sociedad the following week, they will avoid a play-off against a Champions League drop-out in February.

However, Antony caused a stir when he executed his signature double 360-degree drag-back manoeuvre before overshooting a pass straight out of play while the scores were still locked at 0-0.

The Brazilian was branded ‘embarrassing’ and ‘ridiculous’ by pundits Paul Scholes and Robbie at half-time, with the latter suggesting Ten Hag should have taken off his winger.

Though the United manager says his decision was pre-planned and unrelated to his former Ajax charge’s showboating, Antony had actually been withdrawn and replaced by Marcus Rashford when the players emerged from the tunnel at halftime.

Asked if Antony’s spin had influenced the substitution, Ten Hag told BT Sport: ‘No, no. It was or less planned. If we were [winning], I wanted to see Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford close together, that was one of the reasons.

‘Also to bring another dynamic over to the right side. I thought over the left side was playing quite well and he had a real threat in his actions, really good tempo dribbles, so that was good to see. So it [Antony’s withdrawal] was or less planned.’



Asked at his post-match press conference if he liked the skill, Ten Hag replied: ‘I don’t have a problem with that as long as it’s functional. So from him I demand more: runs in behind, often in the box, more tempo dribbles especially and more playing in the pocket.

‘So we demand dominance in this game and when, now and then, there is a trick like that it is nice as long as it’s functional, you’re not losing the ball and it’s attracting players, then it’s okay. But if it’s a trick for the sake of a trick, then I will correct him.’

Despite Ten Hag’s justification, United icon Scholes was adamant that Antony’s needless showboating contributed to the substitution.

Reacting to the Dutchman’s explanation, he responded: ‘[He said] or less. I think it will have had a little bit of something to do with it.

‘I think you saw his reaction on the bench, I think it frustrated him. I just don’t know what it achieves. This crowd – and me – we love a bit of showboating, a bit of entertaining, but does that do for anybody? Does it do anything for himself? I don’t know what it achieves.’

Ten Hag also rejected suggestions his side needed to be clinical in the first half, instead feeling they needed to commit men forward: ‘I don’t know if that’s the words, it was to bring numbers in, to get behind the defending line of the opponents and especially the occupations of positions in the box.

‘And that was what we could do better and I think the examples are the second and third goal. We had in the box, we occupied the positions and that is what we have to do and where we need to improve.’

On needing to beat Real Sociedad next week by two goals, he added: ‘We are confident, we know what we have to do. That crazy penalty that we conceded in the first game, we have to deal with that, so that means we have to win by two goals difference.’


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