Gary Neville criticized Anthony from Manchester United yesterday during the Red Devils’ League Cup match with Nottingham Forest and insists that the Sao Paulo star must take a leaf out of Riyad Marez’s book if he wants to get better.
“In the last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about Anthony and how he should develop [like] that Marez at City, thanks to which he is right—handed,” Neville said in his commentary for Sky Sports.
“He has to learn to think that people… the defender will try to cut off his left leg, but then he can just pretend to go there and then return to the street on the right.
“At the moment, he’s still a bit predictable. I’m trying to put pressure on my left leg. The defenders just turn it off.”
Anthony has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks, with many observers criticizing United for spending as much on the Brazilian as they did.
It may be worth noting that Marez — a player who was completely accustomed to Premier League football before his transition – went through a full season of adaptation before becoming a key player of City.
In his first season, he scored eight goals, just three more than Anthony scored in a United shirt about twice as fast.
However, Neville raises some strong arguments in favor of Anthony’s predictability, and the winger may confuse his game a little more in the last third.
It is unlikely that he will suddenly develop a good right foot, but during his time at Ajax, Anthony was very effective when he used the outside of his left boot to shoot into the front post or bypass the defense, as he demonstrated when setting up Bruno Fernandez for a chance yesterday.
It is curious that fans have seen him perform such actions in such rare cases, when the Brazilian almost always chose a chance to kick with a foot lift.
One-legged or not, Anthony has everything he needs to get off the field, where he can become a more effective creator of chances at Old Trafford.
It is not clear whether the newfound selfishness or the desperate desire to prove oneself needs to be curbed.
It could even be the result of different attacking styles between this United team and the one Ten Hag managed at Ajax.
The Eredivisie champions were famous for filling the penalty box bench with numbers, while many United strikers often prefer to receive the ball face-to-face with the opponent’s defense.
The addition of Wout Weghorst and the promising partnership he seems to be forming with Bruno Fernandes may well have a domino effect, convincing Anthony that the ball in the danger zone will be met.
In any case, his attention should be focused on creating chances for his teammates, because although his performance and work without the ball has been good so far, he lacks creativity.