‘It took me six months to feel good’ – Andre Onana on his early struggles with Man Utd

Onana: Cameroon goalkeeper makes difficult admission after Man United draw

Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana has opened up about the struggles he faced in the early part of his summer move to Premier League club Manchester United.

The 28-year-old, who joined the Red Devils in July 2023 from Inter Milan in a deal worth about £44 million, revealed that he didn’t find life at United easy to come by in the beginning.

The former Ajax goalkeeper made a series of errors in his start to life at Old Trafford, particularly in the UEFA Champions League, as United crashed out in the group stages after a disappointing outing in the European club competition.

While speaking to former United defender Gary Neville on The Overlap, Onana, who now looks at home in England, revealed that it took him a while to settle down to life in Manchester, with the Cameroon star praising the club and his teammates for helping him acclimate.

“Well, I’m used to the pressure,” Onana said when asked about the amount of pressure he’s faced with as United’s goalie. “I am Cameroonian; playing for my national team is huge pressure. Playing for Barcelona and Inter also posed their own pressures.

“But here [Man Utd] is even more. I won’t say I feel the pressure so much because I am used to this. I am 28 years old, but it was different. Everything was different. I had to adapt.

“It took me six months not to even play well but just to feel good,” he continued. “But I spoke to my teammates, and they made me understand that I needed to be calm, as it took others more.

“Everyone helped me settle here… For example, look at Harry [Maguire] and all he’s been through. So, why should I be scared when a big character like him faces even worse? Look at him; now he’s back, and he is one of the best on the team.

“This club helped me so much; my teammates helped me so much, as the first six months were very difficult, but again, it provided me with another opportunity to learn.”

Onana, who admitted that the constant criticism rarely bothers him, adds that he is concerned about the effect of such harsh scrutiny of the younger players.

Furthermore, he name-dropped himself and three other senior United colleagues, whom he believes the criticism should be directed at as they are the more senior players and can handle it better.

“For me, I don’t pay attention to it. I have come into this team to take bullets because we are under construction; at the moment, we are not the best.”

“We have other teams that are doing better than us, and we have to be honest and recognize that. If things are going wrong, don’t go for the youngest player; I’m here to take it; Bruno [Fernandes], Casemiro, and Harry [Maguire] are there, and we are used to it.”

“When it’s people who were sitting where I’m sitting who won everything, sometimes it’s bizarre—we are in the same boat. We try to follow your thing and what you did. For me, I don’t mind, but other people may be affected. For me, to be honest, it’s just a part of the game.”

The Cameroonian goalkeeper, whose performances were initially under the microscope, has now become a fan favourite, having put out quite a number of top-class performances for United in the second half of the season.

Onana kept nine clean sheets, the fifth-most of any keeper in the league this campaign, despite playing for arguably United’s worst side in Premier League history.

Additionally, he made 149 saves, the most in the league, and managed just one error leading to a goal in the English top flight, while winning the Save of the Month award for April.

With the 2023–24 Premier League season now over and Erik Ten Hag’s men finishing eighth, the United goalie can now shift his focus to the FA Cup final, where they will face neighbours and newly-crowned league champions Manchester City on Saturday, May 25, at Wembley Stadium, as a win helps them secure a spot in the Europa League for next season.

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