Is Andre Onana really an upgrade on De Gea at Man United?

Andre Onana is already under pressure after David de Gea-esque calamities as Man United let in 14 goals in his first six games… so is the £47m keeper really an upgrade?

  • Onana allowed Leroy Sane’s saveable shot to squirm past him on Wednesday 
  • It was reminiscent of the horrendous errors David de Gea made last season 
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off! 

The most troubling thing for Manchester United is the similarity in the mistakes being made.

Andre Onana allowed Leroy Sane’s fairly powerless shot to squirm past him and it might well have been David de Gea against Brentford or West Ham last season.

United spent £47million on Onana at Erik ten Hag’s behest because they felt De Gea was making too many high-profile errors, which were outweighing his shot stopping abilities.

Onana was also signed because his passing attributes are far superior to those of De Gea but nobody is talking about that right now.

After conceding 14 goals in his first six United appearances, the spotlight is already burning on Onana in an uncomfortable way.

Andre Onana allows Leroy Sane’s weak shot to squirm past him as Bayern Munich opened the scoring against Manchester United on Wednesday night

Onana was floored by the error, which set United on the way to a 4-3 defeat in Munich

It was reminiscent of the errors David de Gea made in his final season at Old Trafford 

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It doesn’t help, of course, that he has been dropped into a dysfunctional United team who seem to have painfully regressed from last season.

He may be conceding too many goals but so many of them were preventable if only United’s defenders and midfielders were more organised.

A comparison of Onana’s opening six games for United shows he’s made 25 saves, of which several came in the second-half in Munich, keeping them in contention.

In De Gea’s first six games last season, he made only 18 saves and in his final six games for United, just 16, so it isn’t entirely Onana’s fault because more shots are getting through.

He is conceding more goals, however, and there have already been a few moments when he might have done better.

Onana was fortunate to get away with not conceding a penalty when he clattered Wolves’ Sasa Kalajdzic in the closing stages of United’s season-opening 1-0 win in August.

He ended up stumbling when trying to prevent Taiwo Awoniyi scoring Nottingham Forest’s opener at Old Trafford and Joao Pedro’s strike for Brighton last weekend went through his gloves.

But it is far, far too early to come to a judgement on Onana and definitely far too early to write him off.

Manchester United rallied around Andre Onana after his mistake cost the team a goal

Onana was beaten four times on the night, with Bayern Munich defeating United 4-3 

A comparison of Onana’s first six matches for Manchester United with De Gea’s first six of last season and his final six for the club

Let’s not forget that De Gea was quickly dismissed as ‘too weak for the Premier League’ in some quarters after he was buffeted by stronger opposition strikers in his early United games in 2011.

But having settled in, he would go on to establish himself as one of the world’s best goalies and was repeatedly voted United’s player of the season.

Onana is further down his career path than De Gea was, of course, but a really promising sign of his mental resolve is his willingness to front up when things have gone wrong.

‘It’s a difficult situation for me, I let the team down. It’s because of me we didn’t win this game,’ he said on TNT Sports within minutes of the final whistle in Munich.

‘We started very well and after my mistake we lost control of the game. I still have a lot to prove. My start hasn’t been so good, not how I wanted.’

Onana was fortunate not to concede a penalty when he clattered Wolves Sasa Kalajdzic

The United keeper strangely went to ground early in an effort to put Taiwo Awoniyi off

Some argued Onana might have done better with Joao Pedro’s third goal for Brighton

David de Gea also struggled when he first moved to Manchester United back in 2011

The young Spaniard was quickly written off in some quarters for not being strong enough

Man United fixtures 

Premier League unless stated

Saturday Burnley (A)

September 26 Crystal Palace (H)

Carabao Cup third round

September 30 Crystal Palace (H)

October 3 Galatasaray (H)

Champions League group stage

October 7 Brentford (H)

October 21 Sheffield United (A)

Credit to Onana for holding his hands up and he would receive Ten Hag’s backing and also that of captain Bruno Fernandes, who rightly said the whole side was culpable.

It was, however, a little worrying that Onana still seemed in a funk, still mulling over his mistake, when Bayern doubled their lead through Serge Gnabry a few minutes later.

It’s difficult to simply wipe something like that from your mind but the 27-year-old needs to find an in-game coping mechanism and deal with the fall-out afterwards.

As he himself said in that TV interview: ‘This is the life of a goalkeeper.’

The good news is that Onana is fulfilling one reason why he was signed from Inter Milan. He’s played 200 passes in his first six games at an accuracy of 76. Only 31.5 per cent of those have been long kicks.

By comparison, De Gea played 152 passes at an accuracy of 55.3 per cent in his first half-dozen games last season. 63.8 per cent of those were long kicks.

The predominance now of shorter passes shows the green shoots of the style Ten Hag wants.

Onana is far more comfortable with the ball at his feet than De Gea was and United’s defenders are slowly adapting to what is required of them playing out from the back and beating the press.

But it will take some time to implement the changes and we are likely to see more mistakes leading to goals yet.

Sergio Reguilon picks Onana up after he conceded to Sane but the keeper seemed in a funk

It was a chastening night all round for United with the 4-3 scoreline flattering to them

Having suffered four defeats from their opening six, there is at least some solace in the fixture list.

On paper at least, United should beat Burnley, Crystal Palace (in Carabao Cup then League), Galatasaray, Brentford, Sheffield United and Copenhagen in their next few games, five of which are at home.

But they’re at such a low ebb, absolutely everyone will fancy their chances against them. Things could very easily get worse before they get better.

Onana – and United in general – must quickly find a way to drag themselves up off the floor.


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