MANCHESTER - Erik ten Hag hailed Antony’s deadly partnership with Marcus Rashford as Manchester United’s new signing scored on his debut while his strike partner’s brace sent Arsenal crashing to 3-1 defeat on Sunday.
Antony made a dream debut as the Brazil forward scored just 35 minutes into his first appearance following his £82 million (US$94 million) move from Ajax.
Some pundits questioned United’s decision to splash out such a big fee on the 22-year-old.
But Ten Hag knows all about Antony from their time together at Ajax, where the United manager worked before taking charge of the Premier League club in the summer.
And Antony appeared to the manor born as he unfurled an array of skills and intelligent play to dazzle the Old Trafford crowd.
He formed an instant relationship with fellow forward Rashford, who provided an astute assist for Antony’s clinical finish.
“They both played great, a continual threat. I know our offensive is really strong, they are creative and have speed,” Ten Hag said of Antony and Rashford.
“This is the first time they have played together and this performance is great to see.
Arsenal had won their first five games but United’s four-match winning run is their longest in the Premier League since winning five in a row in 2021 under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
It is exactly the kind of streak Ten Hag needed his team to go after his reign started with embarrassing defeats against Brighton and Brentford.
The 4-0 loss at Brentford was especially chastening, but since then Ten Hag has got the response he wanted after calling for his players to show more hunger and character.
“We are happy and satisfied with the win, also the performance against a really good team,” Ten Hag said.
“The spirit from this team, they can deal with setbacks. It is really great and shows your mentality. We have really improved on that.
“We have the right characters and now it is about cooperation. We have to stay calm, stay composed and play our game.”
Old Trafford was buzzing in the aftermath of another encouraging result that showed United’s 2-1 success against bitter rivals Liverpool was no fluke.
But, well aware of the flaws in a team that finished a woeful sixth last season, Ten Hag warned United not to get carried away.
The winning streak has lifted them to fifth place after they were bottom of the table following the Brentford debacle, yet Ten Hag sees plenty of room for improvement.
“When we get that we will have better control of the game. That’s hard work. There’s a lot of room for improvement.
“We can have better pressing and organisation. We can control the game more.
“We can be better in possession with better composure on the ball then we will dictate the game even more.