Sadness: Andre Onana was visibly shaken after the 3-3 draw in Istanbul.Image: Cornerstone
Manchester United have squandered a lead again in the Champions League – and once again Andre Onana is looking bad when conceding goals. The new €50 million signing is becoming an increasingly bigger problem for his team.
November 30, 2023, 5:54 p.mNovember 30, 2023, 7:12 p.m
It would be unfair to claim that goalkeeper Andre Onana is the only problem at Manchester United. There are many other things going wrong at the club. Not only is the defense weak because of the Cameroonian, there is an attacking problem at least in the Premier League and the tension between fans and owners has long since been broken anyway. However, Onana is a symbol of the crisis that the English champions are suffering from.
Yesterday, Wednesday, they conceded two goals in the preliminary group match of the Champions League against Galatasaray Istanbul. Due to the 3-3 draw, Manchester United no longer has the chance to reach the Round of 16 in the First Division in their hands. Onana was signed so that the Red Devils would not have to worry about the goalkeeper position. United have transferred more than €50 million to Inter Milan for the 27-year-old.
For the Italians, he was one of the best goalkeepers in the Champions League last season and played a key role in reaching the final. In addition to his powerful reactions, Onana particularly impressed Manchester United officials with his footballing skills. Unlike his predecessor David de Gea, he can participate in build-up play and launch attacks as well.
As inconsistent as his team
Now, it’s not as if Onana completely lacked those skills at Manchester United. Compared to De Gea, he is more involved in the passing game, has more contact with the ball and rarely makes any mistakes with the ball at his feet. However, sixth place in the 2023 World Goalkeeper of the Year voting poses a problem for Manchester United.
As inconsistent as the Red Devils have been this season, Andre Onana has been just as inconsistent. Sometimes he shines with excellent saves, as was the case recently in the English Premier League, when he kept three clean sheets in a row and Manchester United won only 1-0 over Fulham and Luton. Or in the 1-0 win over Copenhagen in the Champions League, when Onana capped off a powerful performance with a penalty kick saved in stoppage time. He then fires his team with his blunders – thus also jeopardizing the job of his coach, who ultimately has to take the blame for the poor results.
This is not the first time Onana has dropped points this season, as he often fluctuates, especially in the Champions League. After the 4-3 defeat in Munich last September, Onana apologized, saying: “I let the team down. For me, we did not win the game.” The 35-time national player evaded a shot from Leroy Sane to make it 1-0 to Bayern. This is the first of 14 goals scored in the current Champions League season.
“We are conceding terrible goals,” said Bruno Fernandes, who scored the two free kicks before 1:2 and 2:3 in Istanbul. When asked about Onana’s mistake, coach Erik ten Hag said: “Of course, mistakes made by individual players can make the difference.” Like captain Fernandes, the Dutchman did not want to make the goalkeeper the culprit. But especially after the game in Istanbul, no one can claim Onana is a safe backup.
Harsh criticism from a club legend
“He makes his team nervous with his blunders,” Manchester United legend Paul Scholes tells TNT Sports. Onana makes easy saves “look very difficult”. The former midfielder also felt responsible for Galatasaray’s 3-3 draw with the Cameroonian goalkeeper: “He shouldn’t allow himself to be beaten at the short corner, his positional play is weak.” By appearing in the top flight, Onana, who has recently shown good form in the Premier League, has clearly taken a step back once again.
Because he is always prone to making mistakes, Onana cannot break out of this negative spiral. Self-confidence, especially for a goalkeeper, is a crucial factor in being able to perform well. This is unlikely to have increased after the notable defeat in Istanbul – and now he must regain it, as well as the trust of the fans and his teammates, little by little. The first opportunity comes on Saturday at Newcastle in his favorite competition, the English Premier League.
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