Manchester United’s Antony calls out his critics and trial by ‘digital court’

<span>Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA</span>
Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

Antony has upbraided former Manchester United players for their “malicious” criticism of him, stating that they offer nothing constructive and their views are magnified by a “digital court” that can ruin lives.

Since arriving at Old Trafford in the summer of 2022 for £85m the Brazilian has struggled for consistent form. The winger’s first season featured eight goals and three assists in 44 United appearances, and this term he is yet to score or make an assist in 15.

The 24-year-old was given a leave of absence by the club this season to answer a number of allegations of violence against women, all of which he denies. He has spoken to police in Brazil and England about the allegations. He has not been arrested or charged.

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Beyond his low goal and assist return Antony has been criticised for lacking creativity. In October 2022 the former United midfielder Paul Scholes described him as a “one-trick pony”. In October of this year Gary Neville, Scholes’s former United teammate, called Antony “embarrassing” for kicking out at Manchester City’s Jérémy Doku during the derby. Antony offered his view on these and his other critics.

“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, an independent fan channel. “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.”

Antony believes social media can amplify criticism in a detrimental way. “The ‘digital court’ is ruining lives – contexts are left aside, and the truth no longer matters,” he said. “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 [would have] fared in my place.”

He pointed to moving from São Paulo in his native Brazil to Ajax in 2020. “My life has changed radically in the last four years. It wasn’t easy to assimilate and understand all those changes.

“My life has always been very challenging, and I have had to go through many situations that many cannot imagine. I grew up in a hostile place, where eating, having a good house, having the internet, and access to a good education were a privilege. I would say that for us on the favelas all of these were a luxury few people could have.

“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 advise those young players to take care of their mental side and work hard.”