‘He was provoked!’ – Ten Hag defends Antony’s taunting beaten Coventry players


Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag defended Antony’s celebratory actions against Coventry, stating that the player was provoked.

Antony faced criticism for his exuberant celebration, including cupping his ears towards Coventry’s players and fans, after United’s FA Cup semi-final win.

This behaviour came in contrast to Harry Maguire’s consoling gestures towards the Coventry players, who had staged an impressive comeback from 3-0 down.

“Did you see the reaction of Harry Maguire? He [Antony] was provoked, that’s why this was a reaction of that, you haven’t seen the provocation, only the reaction,” Ten Hag told a press conference. “But he should not do it.

I have seen Harry Maguire straight after and other; we should acknowledge the performance of Coventry coming to that final and the comeback. We are 70 mins totally dominating the game by far and 3-0 must have been the game is closed but the return from their side was very good.”

Erik ten Hag expressed his discontent with the penalty decision given to Coventry in added time due to a handball by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

However, he clarified that he would not resort to the approach taken by Nottingham Forest, who questioned the referees’ integrity following their Premier League loss to Everton.

He added: “You can’t do that. You can agree, or you can disagree. The handball for Wan-Bissaka is totally wrong, a mistake but you can’t question it. So it’s not good for the game and the refereeing; we should respect them and there is no respect.”

Antony, United’s second most expensive signing at £85 million ($105m) in 2022, has only managed two goals and two assists across all competitions this season.

As they prepare to face Premier League strugglers Sheffield United on Wednesday, United are seeking their first win in regulation time since defeating Everton on March 9.

With slim chances of Champions League qualification, the Red Devils are now prioritising ending a disappointing season positively and securing a spot in next season’s Europa League.

Ten Hag added: “We have to win every game. That’s what United stands for, that is our approach, go from game to game but we have to qualify for Europe and we have two opportunities in the league and the FA Cup final.”


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