Player Profile: MICHAIL ANTONIO

PLAYER PROFILE – MICHAIL ANTONIO

Michail Antonio was Gary Megson’s last signing as Wednesday manager, brought in two days before the Steel City Derby.

He impressed against our neighbours from Sheffield 2 and further enhanced his reputation against Bury – scoring twice and setting up one.

The man from Wandsworth, south London is here until the end of the season – and that includes any potential playoff run.

So let’s find out a little bit more about the man with the questionable celebration routine!

WHAT’S THE STORY?


The 21 year-old winger has had something of a meteoric rise. Antonio began his fledgling career at Imperial Fields, Morden where he was spotted by Reading scouts.

He explains: “I was playing non-league for Tooting & Mitcham when I was 18. I just played six games and I had a three-day trial at Reading and they signed me.”

Tooting & Mitcham United

Antonio had bagged four goals in those six games for Tooting and signed a two-year contract when he joined Reading in October 2008.

At the time Reading’s director of football Nicky Hammond admitted Antonio had “never really had any professional involvement with a club.”

Three months later he rejoined Tooting & Mitcham United on loan where he scored seven goals in nine games. He was recalled by The Royals and sent straight back out on loan to League One Cheltenham Town.

He made his league debut at Elland Road but it was no dream debut as he went off with an ankle injury on the half-hour, much to the disappointed of then-Robins manager Martin Allen.

MA at Cheltenham

“He’s bitterly upset because he is a good player and would have been a threat throughout the game,” he said.

He was back within a month, though, and made eight more appearances for Cheltenham without scoring as The Robins were relegated.

He then returned to Reading and he made his debut for the club as a substitute in a 2-1 Carling Cup defeat to Barnsley. The Royals got revenge four days later, though, beating the Tykes 3-1 in the Championship with Antonio playing twenty minutes.

In October 2009 he joined League One Southampton on a one-month loan, scoring his first goal in an FA Cup win against Bristol Rovers. His loan was subsequently extended until the end of the season and Antonio made great strides.

Successful spell

He scored a further six goals, including a memorable birthday goal at Wembley as Southampton lifted the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy after a 4-1 victory over Carlisle United. The scorer for the defeated finalists was a certain Mr G. Madine.

Antonio spent the 2010/11 season back at his parent club, making his full debut for the club in August 2010 as The Royals beat Torquay United 1-0 in the Carling Cup. His chances were limited though as he mainly featured as a substitute. He scored his first Reading goal in October 2010 in a 4-0 defeat of Brian Laws’ Burnley.

At the start of the current campaign Antonio was sent back out on loan – this time to Essex, where he joined League One Colchester United. He scored four goals in 15 games for the U’s in a three-month spell before returning to Reading in November. He made seven appearances in the hoops before joining The Owls a fortnight ago.

HE LOOKS FAMILIAR


Michail should be familiar to Wednesday fans having been in the Colchester team that lost 2-0 at Hillsborough in October.

Antonio takes on the man he has replaced at S6

He was also on the radar of Gary Megson when he returned to Reading in November but the imminent birth of his son prevented him from joining the club.

SO WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM ANTONIO?


Well if his performances for the club so far are anything to go by then Wednesdayites should be excited. He was very lively in his debut against Sheffield United, looking one of our most creative players. On Tuesday night he scored two goals and unselfishly set up Ryan Lowe’s strike but the young winger feels there is more to come.

“It’s good to join the club and get started quickly and try and make your mark as quickly as possible,” he said.

“I still feel that I’m not at my best – that could have been my best so far for Sheffield Wednesday.”

“It’s always good to try and get off the mark as soon as possible so you can try and build on that and try to get on a run of goals,” he said.

“Hopefully this weekend if I play I can get some more.”

“I’m a winger, I like to get a lot of assists and more crosses into the box,” he added.

“Recently my crossing has not been the best, definitely not as good as I know it could be. Hopefully they get better for the time I’m here.”

“At Reading – basically they’re winger-based. They like to get the ball to their wingers, make sure their wingers take their players on and get crosses into the box.

“That’s the kind of game I like to play. Hopefully I’m doing that here,” he said.

WHAT ARE HIS AIMS FOR THE SEASON?


Antonio has set his sights high. He turns 22 later this month but he has his mind firmly set on his goal of getting ten crosses into the box each game – and scoring four more goals this season to add to his brace against Bury. But first, he admits, he needs to cement his place in the side.

Knuckling down at S6

“It’s a personal target because you’re your own biggest critic so I set myself high targets so I can achieve them,” said Antonio.

“Especially with a new manager coming in you need to try and leave your mark in his mind and me scoring two goals hopefully has done that.”

“All I really need to do is train hard and perform well. If I do that then hopefully I can stay in the team. But if I don’t then, rightly so, I get dropped. It’s a performance game so really – if you’re not performing well you can’t expect to play.”

As a Sheffield Wednesday player for the rest of the season he hopes he can be involved in a promotion campaign for the first time.

“It’s all about just getting promotion and the gaffer said to us: ‘All you do is go for who’s on top of you.’ So right now Sheffield United are on top of us, we need to go for them,” he said.

“As soon as we get their spot we need to go for Charlton. Basically it’s all about getting that promotion so we get to The Championship and play where I feel this club should be.”

“League One’s a great league,” he added. “There’s always competition, always great teams, always people fighting for the playoffs.”

“We can’t really be on our heels, we always have to be on our toes. It’s all a battle and we’ve got to win the battle.”

AND THE FUTURE?


Antonio admits he is not sure where his future lies, although he does have the security of knowing his Reading contract runs until summer 2013.

“Reading is my parent club and that’s the team I really need to show what I can do,” said Antonio.

Signed until 2013

“Right now I don’t know how Reading are thinking. All I really need to do is concentrate on my performance. Whatever happens, happens.

“I’ve had six starts and 18 sub appearances so I don’t really know where I stand there,” he said.

“But to be honest right now I’m just enjoying myself at Sheffield Wednesday and hopefully I can show the manager here what I can do as well.”

He added: “Sheffield Wednesday’s a very big club and it’s a great opportunity for me.”

“But right now I’m just seeing it as getting games and trying to get my head down and just perform as well as I feel I can perform.”

I NEVER KNEW THAT!


Despite his tender years, Michail is a family man who has brought his young family up to Sheffield for the duration of his loan spell. His baby son was born in December and it is important to Antonio that they are all together.

“I wouldn’t really feel right if I was away from my baby and my missus,” he said.

“I’m just enjoying my time here and I’m happy that my whole family could come here and enjoy the experience with me.”

“Gary Megson came in for me in November but my missus was pregnant and I thought it would have been very difficult for me to sort out the pregnancy,” he explained.

“A month later the baby came. It was a boy.”

“It’s more convenient for me now my missus has had the baby, the baby’s down here and it’s just all of us living in the flat,” he said.

“I’m at training; my missus has to do the night feeds. Once I get home from training I have to look after him.”

YOU CAN QUOTE ME ON THAT

Good camaraderie

MA on Gary Megson’s sacking: “In football it’s an unpredictable game, anything can happen at any time. Proving that, Gary Megson got sacked when we’re in third place. It’s one of those things with footballers – you’ve just got to carry on and do what you do; do what you get paid for. Come in, train hard and play well at the weekend.”

MA on his new team-mates: “It’s a great set of boys here, as soon as I’ve walked in everyone’s greeted me. Everyone’s introduced themselves. Already I knew a couple of boys; Clinton, Jon Otsemobor and John Bostock. They’re a great set of boys, I can sit down and talk to anyone.”

MA on Bournemouth: “Right now I feel we’re on a roll – three games unbeaten. I reckon that we should definitely get the three points on Saturday. But football’s an unpredictable game so anything can really happen.”

MA on Dave Jones: “He’s definitely got a future for the boys and he definitely believes that we’re going to get out of this league and get into The Championship. He doesn’t just want to get into The Championship, he wants to get into the Prem as well. He feels that this club can jump leagues straight into the Premiership and stay there hopefully.”

Creg
Owls Alive
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