Manchester United winger Antony has hit out at criticism from former players and has claimed “the digital court is ruining lives”.
The Brazilian says he is “silently rebuilding himself” after a turbulent year both on and off the pitch as he fights assault allegations made against him by a former girlfriend and battles to justify his £85 million price tag.
The Brazil winger was given a period of paid leave by United this season in order to concentrate on matters in his private life after Gabriela Cavallin claimed she was subjected to a series of attacks by the player between June last year and May this year, which he strenuously denies.
Antony has yet to score for United this term as scrutiny over the club’s decision to make him the second most expensive signing in their history after Paul Pogba intensifies.
‘I’ve never seen them give constructive criticism’
But the Brazilian has vowed to prove his detractors wrong at the same time as condemning his treatment at the hands of pundits.
“Today, I see criticism coming from former club players and other people in the media, who unreasonably express their opinions and influence thousands of fans, sometimes even when I do not play,” he told The United Stand.
“But I’ve never seen them give constructive criticism, which will help me be a better professional.
“None of them have ever sent me a message to see how I am feeling, especially during this period of turbulence that I am going through. The ‘digital court’ is ruining lives – contexts are left aside, and the truth no longer matters.”
He added: “I am silently rebuilding myself, and I know that I will be able to be in my best physical and mental shape and overcome all these barriers and challenges that are in front of me because it has always been like this in my life.
“No one has ever given me anything, I have always fought hard for everything I achieved. I would like to know how these people who make these unfair and malicious criticisms fared in my place.”
Antony has struggled to make a consistent impact since joining United in the summer of last year from Ajax, where he played previously under Erik ten Hag.
He admits the transition to the Premier League from the Eredivisie in the Netherlands has been a challenge but is determined to show he has what it takes to succeed in the competition.
“The Premier League has been the strongest worldwide for a long time,” he said. “I grew tactically playing for Ajax and intend to develop even more for Manchester United. Both tactically and in statistics.
“I realised that the game is more dynamic in the Premier League, and we do not have time to think. The game requires focus on the physical and mental side. This is why it’s essential to have a good pre-season, which I didn’t have an opportunity to participate in.
“I’m trying to run against time to be at the same level as my team-mates. I’m 23-years-old, and my life has changed radically in the last four years. It wasn’t easy to assimilate and understand all those changes.
“My daily battle is getting back in my best shape and performing at the highest level on the field, regaining my integrity, and having peace of mind.
“I am feeling physically stronger, and I also understand the English game style. I developed a lot in tactics, defending a lot more, and supporting the wing-back. One of my duties is to cover well on the right side and be efficient on the offensive side.
“I’ve always been a very fast player with good dribbling – these are innate characteristics. I’m trying to improve my understanding of the Premier League’s game and improve my skills to be a more objective player to achieve better goals and assist numbers.
“Within the tactical side, the wingers also play a fundamental defending game. I am working hard to reach my best level soon.”
Winger says squad are behind Ten Hag
United have lost 10 of 21 games this season and face a challenging next fortnight with Chelsea to face at Old Trafford on Wednesday night before games against Bournemouth, Bayern Munich and Liverpool.
Antony believes injuries to key players have had a destabilising effect at Old Trafford this season but has backed Ten Hag to turn things around and says the players are behind the manager and each other.
“The season is not as good as we wanted, we are unstable,” he said. “But we lost a lot of injured players, fundamental pieces for Erik Ten Hag’s chess [board]. With the return of part of the squad, we will improve, and results will improve.
“I know that Manchester United’s moment is not the best, but we will improve and continue pursuing our goals within the season.”
Antony, who says Casemiro and Diogo Dalot are his closest friends in the dressing room, added: “I try to understand the characteristics of my friends [team-mates]. Everything is very natural between us. This created a good chemistry for building the friendships I made in the club. Our group is very close, strengthening us on the field, always running for each other.
“My relationship with Ten Hag has always been very good since Ajax. He taught me a lot, and I owe him a lot for my professional evolution. Of course, in football, we end up experiencing ups and downs, which is normal.
“But I like him, and I think he’s an excellent professional, very capable. It can’t be easy to manage such a huge and historical club as Manchester United.”