Soccer

Erik ten Hag backs under-fire Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana

Marcus Rashford is available again after suspension (Martin Rickett/PA)
Marcus Rashford is available again after suspension (Martin Rickett/PA) Marcus Rashford is available again after suspension (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has insisted he has full confidence in Andre Onana and said there would be nothing to be gained from taking his under-fire goalkeeper out of the spotlight.

Onana’s form is once again under scrutiny after the Cameroon goalkeeper was culpable for two of Galatasaray’s goals in Wednesday’s costly 3-3 draw in Istanbul, as United surrendered a two-goal advantage to leave their Champions League fate out of their hands.

But Ten Hag has strongly defended his £47million summer signing, a player he previously worked with at Ajax, and pointed to statistics showing that Onana is second in saves made, save percentage and goals prevented in the Premier League.

“Players always need trust,” Ten Hag said. “After Alisson he is the best stopper in the league from preventing expected goals. You deserve to play.”

Onana has played in every game for United this season, with Ten Hag opting not to rest him even in the League Cup. That means Turkish stopper Altay Biyindir, a summer signing from Fenerbahce, is still awaiting his debut.

Asked if Onana might benefit from a break, Ten Hag said: “It won’t help him. I have trust in Tom (Heaton) and Altay, clear. But Andre, you see after Alisson, he prevented the most expected goals in the whole league.

“In the Champions League, he has so much experience with Ajax and last year with Inter Milan. Last year he was with (Manuel) Neuer and (Thibaut) Courtois the best goalkeeper, so he is a great keeper.

“He has the potential, so we have to work on him so that he does it consistently and we will work with him and we will support him. The manager, coaches and players all support him.”

That support was not obvious in Istanbul, when United players did not go over to Onana at the final whistle as he threw his gloves to the floor in disgust at his own performance.

But Ten Hag insisted that was not a sign that his players might be losing confidence in their goalkeeper.

“That will not happen,” he said. “This dressing room is together. Football is a game of mistakes and everyone can make mistakes. But this team has to cover that so we will operate.

“Nobody is undroppable, that is also clear. We have a strong belief that he will help us win trophies.”

Onana is expected to be called into Cameroon’s squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, having resolved a dispute with head coach Rigobert Song that saw him quit international football following last year’s World Cup.

Manchester United v Newcastle United – Carabao Cup – Fourth Round – Old Trafford
Manchester United v Newcastle United – Carabao Cup – Fourth Round – Old Trafford Marcus Rashford is available again after suspension (Martin Rickett/PA)

Onana could miss four Premier League matches if he is called in, with some reports suggesting the 27-year-old is now concerned he could lose his place in the United side during that time.

Asked if any decision had yet been taken over his participation, Ten Hag said: “When they call him, he has to go. But we are in talks.”

Marcus Rashford will be available again for United’s trip to Newcastle on Saturday after missing the midweek drama through suspension.

Alejandro Garnacho, who has been in electric form with two goals in two including last weekend’s outstanding bicycle kick against Everton, prefers playing off the left side in the same position as Rashford, but Ten Hag said it was no problem to accommodate players in his side.

“Against Copenhagen they were both in the team, against Everton they were both in the team and now ‘Rashy’ was suspended,” he said.

“‘Rashy’ can play from the right and he likes to play from the right, but he can also play through the middle and he can play from the left, so he is really multi-functional.”