Soccer

I will shine: Andre Onana regaining confidence after early struggles at Man Utd

The goalkeeper revealed he found it hard to adapt following his summer move from Inter Milan.

Andre Onana feels like he is on the right track at Manchester United
Andre Onana feels like he is on the right track at Manchester United Andre Onana feels like he is on the right track at Manchester United (Mike Egerton/PA)

Andre Onana believes he has turned the corner off the pitch after a mentally “difficult time” during his start to life at Manchester United.

Having joined in the summer from Inter Milan in a deal that could reach £47.2million, a string of errors quickly led pressure and scrutiny to mount on the 27-year-old shot-stopper.

Onana became the butt of jokes but has knuckled down and is starting to become the confident, ball-playing goalkeeper Erik ten Hag and United wanted.

“I already know the goalkeeper that I am,” the Cameroon international said. “It took me six months or seven months not to play good, just to feel good.

“It was a difficult time for me. Now I’m feeling a bit better because everything was new, it was difficult for me to feel at home because of so many reasons, a new country.

“But now I’m feeling good. I don’t want to talk about my performance because I know the goalkeeper I am and I have done much more than what I just did.

“So, for me, the most important thing is to be set, to be happy and I will shine.”

Onana spoke openly about his challenging start to life in England ahead of facing rivals Manchester City, who he produced a fantastic display against as Inter narrowly lost June’s Champions League final.

Andre Onana impressed in June’s Champions League final against Manchester City
Andre Onana impressed in June's Champions League final against Manchester City Andre Onana impressed in June’s Champions League final against Manchester City (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I don’t think (I was beating myself up too much after errors), but it was just moments,” the United goalkeeper said.

“Sometimes you are facing difficult situations and I had a difficult six or seven months just feeling good, not playing good, because I think I didn’t start to play good (yet).

“It was just something strange, I don’t know. It was also a good time for me to learn because I learned a lot at that time.

“Playing in the final of the Champions League and being knocked out in the first stage after a few months, it was a big lesson for me.

“Now I think I have everything on my back, learn it and move on, try to be happy. That is the most important thing.”

Andre Onana played under Erik ten Hag at Ajax before linking back up at Old Trafford
Andre Onana played under Erik ten Hag at Ajax before linking back up at Old Trafford Andre Onana played under Erik ten Hag at Ajax before linking back up at Old Trafford (Martin Rickett/PA)

Onana’s errors during United’s European exit were costly, but his performances have since improved markedly and he believes he is now on an upward curve.

“Yeah, I think I had a turning point, but not on the pitch because, like I said, more mental because everything was different,” he said.

“Of course, I moved last season from Amsterdam to Milan, but that adaptation was quite easy.

“But it took me seven, eight months here. It was just time to learn and just go game by game. I hope we will end on top.”

Onana produced another solid display as United kept hopes alive of ending a bumpy campaign with silverware by beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the FA Cup fifth round.

How Ten Hag’s men could do with another clean sheet away to their treble-winning rivals on Sunday, when the goalkeeper wants to continue to repay the faith shown in him.

“My team-mates, my players, they always reminded me who I am and the goalkeeper I am and why I came to this club,” Onana said.

“They told me ‘Andre, it took some players two years, others six months, for others no time, and you have that personality to turn the situation (around)’.

“They always believed in me, they told me from the beginning, ‘Andre, listen, the quality is there, it’s just a matter of time.’

“I am very happy, especially with the supporters, the fans. They were nice with me even in difficult periods and I’m very thankful. I can only thank them.

“I think everything is behind me. Now we have to move on and I think together a great time will come. We just have to do the right things and I think the future will be brilliant for all of us.”