It is a measure of Erik ten Hag’s mounting problems at Manchester United that, in any other circumstances, he would probably call on Jadon Sancho to be Antony’s replacement on the right wing.
Instead, Ten Hag will sit down with Sancho on Monday to see if there is any way to salvage their broken relationship as Antony begins a period of paid leave away from the club.
United announced the move on Sunday in a statement saying that Antony agrees with the decision and is being given time off to fight the allegations of domestic abuse levelled against him. The Brazilian denies any wrongdoing.
It read: ‘Manchester United acknowledges the allegations made against Antony.
‘Players who have not participated in international matches are due back in training on Monday. However, it has been agreed with Antony that he will delay his return until further notice in order to address the allegations.
Man United have confirmed Antony will not return to the club with other players on Monday
Gabriela Cavallin, 22, has alleged that the Brazilian winger assaulted her on four occasions
United find themselves in familiar territory having only just resolved the Mason Greenwood (pictured) saga that hung over the club for 19 months, following his move to Getafe
‘As a club we condemn acts of violence and abuse. We recognise the importance of safeguarding all those involved in this situation, and acknowledge the impact these allegations have on survivors of abuse.’
The truth is that United find themselves in depressingly familiar territory having only just resolved the Mason Greenwood saga that hung over the club for 19 months.
Once again, they are having to tread a delicate path between recognising the impact of the alleged crimes and not throwing their player under the bus.
Greenwood also denied the allegations of attempted rape and assault made against him, and the Crown Prosecution Service dropped all charges in February.
Unlike Greenwood, Antony has not been arrested or charged even though police investigations are ongoing in Manchester and Sao Paulo in response to claims from his ex-girlfriend Gabriela Cavallin that he assaulted her on four occasions. Two other women, law student Rayssa de Freitas and banker Ingrid Lana, have made similar allegations in Brazil.
United have acted cautiously until now, even though Brazil dropped him from their squad a week ago.
Antony is facing allegations of domestic abuse but has not been arrested or charged and has maintained he has done nothing wrong
They issued a rather vague 53-word statement on Wednesday, but pressure has been growing since then from domestic abuse campaigners and Cavallin herself to suspend Antony.
On Sunday, the club did the next best thing by standing him down from active duty.
As United say, it will enable him to focus on fighting to clear his name. But they will also hope that it appeases those calling for even tougher action, as well as sparing Antony from the intense glare of public scrutiny when Teg Hag’s side return to action against Brighton on Saturday.
The player gave a tearful television interview in Brazil on Friday in which he denied Cavallin’s claims that he headbutted her in an assault that also dislodged one of her breast implants, cut her finger when he attacked her with a glass and threatened to throw her out of a moving car when she was pregnant.
He put out another statement yesterday, saying: ‘I have agreed with Manchester United to take a period of absence while I address the allegations made against me.
‘This was a mutual decision to avoid distraction to my team-mates and unnecessary controversy for the club.
Erik ten Hag (right) will be without the player for the foreseeable future and will sit down with Jadon Sancho (right) on Monday to see if there is any way to salvage their broken relationship
‘I want to reiterate my innocence of the things I have been accused of, and I will fully cooperate with the police to help them reach the truth. I look forward to returning to play as soon as possible.’
In the meantime, Ten Hag must find a right winger to play against Brighton. Greenwood used to play there, of course, and then Sancho.
Ten Hag has Alejandro Garnacho, who prefers to play off the left, but Sancho would have been Antony’s natural replacement had his future at United not been thrown into doubt after he effectively called his manager a liar.
The two will hold talks today when Ten Hag returns to work after a short break. It’s just as well he’s recharged his batteries.