Mark Goldbridge: Andre Onana deal was a mistake, Manchester United deserve Champions League exit – and Europa League is embarrassing but we need it
EPL

Mark Goldbridge: Andre Onana deal was a mistake, Manchester United deserve Champions League exit – and Europa League is embarrassing but we need it

Dec 5, 2023

In an exclusive column for talkSPORT.com, Mark Goldbridge explains why Manchester United didn’t need to sign Andre Onana, questions Erik ten Hag’s role in United’s inability to hold onto leads and the ripple effect of a possible Champions League elimination.

Looking back on the draw with Galatasaray, Manchester United have been masters of their own downfall in this Champions League. It’s incredible that they’ve conceded 14 goals in five games.

United were once again the victims of their own demise after throwing away a two-goal lead Istanbul

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United were once again the victims of their own demise after throwing away a two-goal lead IstanbulCredit: Getty

It’s very easy to go in on Andre Onana but I think as a team, they don’t manage situations very well. We were 2-0 up against Copenhagen and Galatasaray away, scored three goals in Munich and effectively lost all those games.

There’s individual errors of course but as a collective, even when Galatasaray equalised with 20 minutes to go, we could have scored another three goals.

I don’t know how we’ve managed to lose to Galatasaray at Old Trafford and draw at their place when they play so open. I really do think a team like Liverpool or Manchester City would be in double figures.

Is Ten Hag responsible for United’s problems in holding onto leads?

I think when you look at some of the bad results Manchester United have had this season, you’ve got to look at Ten Hag and a lot of people are questioning him.

I’m baffled at how we’ve gone from a team that was so progressive last season. I think he overachieved last year taking us to third and two cup finals.

He’s basically dismantled a lot of what was good about that. I know there’s been injuries to Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro and Luke Shaw but Raphael Varane is sat on the bench. He was massively important last season.

Replacing David de Gea with Onana, bringing in Mason Mount – it hasn’t worked.

Onana has been unable to replicate the form he showed in helping Inter Milan reach last season's Champions League final

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Onana has been unable to replicate the form he showed in helping Inter Milan reach last season’s Champions League finalCredit: Getty

There are game management and man-management issues with Ten Hag but I think that’s because he’s reliant on a lot of players that aren’t good enough for Manchester United.

There’s a few players back in the team that failed under [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer. They are in the team because they run around a lot but that doesn’t offer a lot.

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There are some players that beat their chest and talk about passion but offer very little.

Replacing David de Gea with Andre Onana has not been the smooth transition the club expected

My stance on this is that I’m starting to be concerned about him technically as a goalkeeper. I don’t really think he’s up to the standards. It’s early days but I have massive concerns about Onana.

When it comes to Onana, I was very firm that we didn’t make this change this summer. De Gea is a goalkeeper that has got his limitations but over ten years proved himself to be a Manchester United goalkeeper, not only on the pitch but in the dressing room as well.

I know for a fact there was some bewilderment in the dressing room that De Gea was allowed to go in the circumstances that he was and let’s not forget, Manchester United let De Gea go for free and spent £50million on his replacement.

Simple maths – is Onana worth £50m more than De Gea? It was just not a problem to solve this summer and Onana was brought in because of his ball-playing ability but we don’t play out from the back. We should have stayed with De Gea, it was a really bad decision.

De Gea was allowed to leave the club in the summer to make way for the Cameroonian

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De Gea was allowed to leave the club in the summer to make way for the CameroonianCredit: Getty

Onana just doesn’t play the game technically as well as an Alisson or a De Gea. He’s quite unorthodox in the way he saves shots and this leads to the mistakes he makes.

The bottom line is he’s cost Manchester United Champions League football. I hope he can turn it around but it isn’t looking good for him.

Champions League woes could cause further complications

I don’t think we deserve to qualify for the round-of-16. If we do, I’ll take it, it’s Christmas time, the time for miracles, but if we don’t qualify, which is highly likely, there’s the chance to go into the Europa League.

Some United fans would rather not be in Europe at all than play Thursday night football again and I completely get that. But Manchester United are very close to Financial Fair Play and what they can spend. If Man United are out of Europe completely in December, that’s going to have a huge impact financially.

We do need to be in the Europa League but I don’t want to be in it. It’s embarrassing.

Ten Hag has to take responsibility, if he’d have put out the team we had last year we’d have coasted through this group. We’re a different team this year and we’re getting what we deserve.

Goldbridge says Ten Hag's downfall has been his tinkering with last season's side that finished third and reached two cup finals

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Goldbridge says Ten Hag’s downfall has been his tinkering with last season’s side that finished third and reached two cup finalsCredit: Getty


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