Erik ten Hag sticking by André Onana but admits ‘there are gaps’ as Man United equal worst start to a season since 1989

Rasmus Højlund's performance was the silver lining but the clouds are looming large over Old Trafford at the minute.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 4th October 2023

Manager Erik ten Hag has come out to defend his number one, André Onana, after the Cameroonian goalkeeper made yet another costly mistake which saw Manchester United go down to 10 men and ultimately lose 3-2 to Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday.

United came out of the traps the better team on the night, opening the scoring through Rasmus Højlund and creating a number of other chances in the opening 20 minutes, only for a deflected equaliser from former player Wilfried Zaha to cut their confidence short.

The Red Devils’ disappointing defensive display was a theme throughout and although Højlund did go on to score a second (it could have been a hattrick if not for an impressively composed finish ruled offside), they made it far too easy for the opposition to answer back with an almost immediate counter-punch.

Calamity at the back culminated in Onana’s second major error in the Champions League season as he effectively passed the ball to the opposition, leaving Casemiro with little choice other than to make a last-ditch challenge and receive a second yellow, meaning he will now miss their final group stage game.

While Mauro Icardi missed his penalty, he did go on to score the second equaliser — one which might not have come were it not for United being short a key player. Nevertheless, following fans’ obvious frustration at Onana’s string of errors and calls for him to be dropped, ten Hag is sticking by the signing.

ten Hag confirms Onana’s position after a costly mistake against Galatasaray.

As he insisted to multiple outlets after the game, he said: “We are happy with our goalkeeping group, definitely with Andre, and Andre was in one semi-final of the Champions League, last season he was in a final of the Champions League, he has the capabilities to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

“He showed that and he will do. We have already seen in games his great capabilities, also his personality after he made a mistake. He will bounce back and I’m sure he will do in the coming games as well.”


The Dutchman went on to admit in his post-match press conference that although he believes “last season was brilliant, terrific, more than we could have expected”, he knew “there would be gaps”, adding that, “In this moment, we are in a very difficult period, as everyone can see.”

The defeat to Crystal Palace at the weekend saw the club equal their worst start to a league season since 1989/90, when Sir Alex Ferguson himself was nearly sacked after losing four out of his opening seven games, but this is also the first time United have lost their opening two UCL games in history.

It wasn’t the only negative record they put up on the night either, as they helped the Turkish visitors to their first-ever competitive win on English soil.


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Although many now believe Onana should be dropped and either one of Tom Heaton or United’s other new signing, Altay Bayindir, given a chance, ten Hag was sure to make it clear that the fault doesn’t just lie with the keeper and that mistakes need to be eliminated all across the pitch.

He also reiterated that there were periods of the game when his team were in control and played “fantastic” and while he understands fans booing at full-time, he assured that both he and the team are just as disappointed but that that “it needs to be [used as] fuel” to turn things around.

“We are fighting together, stick[ing] together, we are behind each other, and that is me, the directors, the team — all together, we will fight. This is not us. We know we have to do better and in the togetherness, we will come out.”

You can watch the highlights of Manchester United’s 3-2 loss to Galatasaray in the Champions League down below:

Onana’s mistake against Galatasaray was by no means his first; it wasn’t even his first in the UCL.

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Featured Image — Man United (via Instagram)/BeanymanSports (via YouTube)