Manchester United legend Gary Pallister has claimed the ever-changing back four has contributed to Andre Onana’s poor start at the club. Erik ten Hag has faced multiple injuries in defence so far this season which has seen him have to rotate most matches.
Onana joined United in July for a fee of up to £47million. The Cameroon international was part of the Inter Milan side that reached the Champions League final last season, which saw his stock rise.
Ten Hag knew Onana well from their time together at Ajax. The goalkeeper has allowed United to be more comfortable in playing out from the back but he has also made a number of high-profile errors which have led to goals.
Onana’s performances have attracted criticism and he has often taken responsibility for his mistakes. But Pallister has highlighted a fresh reason behind his difficult start at Old Trafford, pointing out problems that are out of his control.
He says the constant changing of the back four has not helped Onana settle. Pallister told OLBG: “He’s played at Inter Milan, he understands what it’s like to play for big clubs and you’re under the spotlight if you make mistakes, but show me a goalkeeper that doesn’t make mistakes.
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“I think it is difficult getting used to a keeper, but as I say, you haven’t got a back four that’s been there week in, week out. I don’t think we’ve played one game back-to-back with the same backline, so that causes problems in itself.”
Ten Hag has been unable to name the same back four in successive Premier League matches since the first two games of the campaign. Luke Shaw has been missing since the defeat at Tottenham in August, while Lisandro Martinez is set for months on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a foot problem.
Raphael Varane has started just four league games so far, while Harry Maguire has also missed matches due to injury. Aaron Wan-Bissaka won’t return until November at least, while Tyrell Malacia remains absent.
Pallister also admits there is extra pressure on Onana to fill the void left by David de Gea. He added: “He’s different to David de Gea.
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“He takes a few chances on the edge of his box and so that takes a bit of time to get used to. You can call them excuses or you can call them hard facts. It is what it is.
“Keeping the ball out of the net, I’d say David’s the better goalkeeper. Playing with the ball at his feet, I think it’s clear to see that Onana brings something that Erik ten Hag wanted to add to the team.
“De Gea was an incredible servant for Manchester United. I think he was Player of the Year four times, which for a goalkeeper at Old Trafford, has never been heard of. I guess that heaps a bit more pressure on Onana because everybody’s judging him by different standards and he’s a different keeper, he’s a different personality.”
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