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Onana vs. De Gea: A Tale of Two Manchester United Starts apart 12 Years

The Mad World of Goalkeeping

Becoming a goalkeeper often requires a touch of madness, and this sentiment is entirely accurate. It’s a role that offers little gratitude and seems hardly worth the trouble. A single mistake can haunt you indefinitely. There’s significantly less margin for error than any other position on the field. As a goalkeeper under the Manchester United microscope of introspection, the stakes are even higher. Such was the life of David de Gea 12 years ago, and now, it’s Andre Onana’s reality.

David de Gea Andre Onana Image via Getty Images Onana vs. De Gea: A Tale of Two Manchester United Starts apart 12 Years
David de Gea & Andre Onana, Images via Getty Images

But the question looms, who had the more challenging start? What were the nuances of their early struggles? Is there hope for Onana, or should he explore alternative career paths, perhaps as a motivational speaker or a YouTube personality? We’ll delve into these questions as we dissect and compare the turbulent beginnings of David de Gea and Andre Onana at Manchester United.

David de Gea’s Start at Manchester United: De Gea’s Debut and Early Struggles

David de Gea’s arrival at Manchester United was a momentous occasion, filled with great expectations. His debut was no ordinary one; it took place against arch-rivals Manchester City in the 2011 Community Shield, a match United came from behind to win 3-2. However, De Gea’s initial forays hardly inspired confidence. In one instance, City took the lead when David Silva delivered an enticing cross from a free-kick. Unfortunately, De Gea’s hesitation to claim the ball allowed Joleon Lescott to head City into the lead. A week later, a similar narrative unfolded as he let a speculative effort from Shane Long slip under him and into the net.

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Moments of Brilliance and Mixed Bag

Amid these early struggles, there were moments of brilliance. After keeping a clean sheet in a 3-0 triumph against Tottenham Hotspur, De Gea’s first heroic moment in a United shirt came when he saved a Robin van Persie penalty in their famous 8-2 thrashing of Arsenal, though he allowed Theo Walcott to get on the scoresheet with a shot between his legs. De Gea’s early games were indeed a mixed bag, with concerns about his lack of physicality persisting.

David de Gea Image via Twitter Onana vs. De Gea: A Tale of Two Manchester United Starts apart 12 Years
David de Gea, Image via Twitter

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Andre Onana’s Start at Man Utd: A Non-Conventional Approach

The arrival of Andre Onana at Manchester United was marked by anticipation and excitement, with high expectations for the Cameroonian goalkeeper. However, Onana’s approach during the preseason raised eyebrows, as he often ventured high up the pitch, displaying a proclivity for acting more like an outfield player. This style, which deviated from the traditional goalkeeper role, quickly backfired when he was lobbed from the halfway line in a friendly against Lens.

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Early Errors and Moments of Improvement

Onana’s official debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers resulted in a clean sheet, but it was marred by controversy when the visitors were denied a stoppage-time penalty. Onana had completely clattered striker Sasa Kalajdzic, who stood at an imposing 6’7, when trying and failing to claim a cross. Subsequently, a 2-0 loss at Tottenham followed, but blame could hardly be laid at Onana’s door. Nevertheless, the same cannot be said for his performance a week later when he twice made himself smaller, leading to quick-fire goals scored by Nottingham Forest.

Despite moments of improvement, Onana’s early performances faced challenges, with criticism surrounding a 3-1 loss at Arsenal and a 3-1 defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion. While he seemed to find some stability with normal games in the Premier League and Carabao Cup, occasional errors continued to surface.

Andre Onana Image via Twitter 1 Onana vs. De Gea: A Tale of Two Manchester United Starts apart 12 Years
Andre Onana, Image via Twitter

More Challenges and Errors

Onana’s performances faced further challenges, including a 4-3 loss at Bayern Munich, in which he allowed a slow-moving Leroy Sane shot to find the back of the net. Signs of improvement surfaced when Onana had entirely normal games in the Premier League against Burnley and Crystal Palace, as well as in a Carabao Cup clash against the Eagles. However, he couldn’t escape the occasional error, and in United’s 3-2 loss to Galatasaray, Onana’s poor pass from the back led to Casemiro’s red card, and he was again beaten with ease for Mauro Icardi’s winner.

Finally, in a game against Brentford, an almighty thank you was due to Scott McTominay, whose stoppage-time brace helped overshadow Onana’s blunder that led to Mathias Jensen’s goal down the middle of the goal.

Whose Start Was Worse?

Comparing the challenging starts of David de Gea and Andre Onana, it’s evident that De Gea’s early struggles were punctuated by moments of promise. He faced criticism for his lack of physicality but exhibited his capabilities as a young shot-stopper. Onana, on the other hand, arrived at Manchester United with high expectations, with many considering him to be a finished product. However, his initial performances fell short of the lofty standards set for him, and his willingness to embrace a more unorthodox style drew both curiosity and critique.

David de Gea with Sir Alex Ferguson Image via Twitter Onana vs. De Gea: A Tale of Two Manchester United Starts apart 12 Years
David de Gea with Sir Alex Ferguson, Image via Twitter

In the realm of goalkeeping at Manchester United, both David de Gea and Andre Onana encountered challenging starts. De Gea, despite his initial criticisms and doubts about his physicality, grew into his role as a proven shot-stopper and overcame his early difficulties. His early promise paved the way for a successful tenure.

On the other hand, Onana, expected to be a finished product, has yet to live up to the high expectations set for him. His eagerness to venture outside the traditional goalkeeper’s role has garnered both interest and scepticism. While there is still time for Onana to turn his Manchester United career around, the early signs have raised doubts about his adaptation to the Premier League, which is known for its unforgiving nature.

Andre Onana Image via Twitter Onana vs. De Gea: A Tale of Two Manchester United Starts apart 12 Years
Andre Onana, Image via Twitter

It’s worth noting that goalkeepers tend to peak later in their careers, so the future holds the key to whether Onana can replicate the success of De Gea or chart a different path in his football journey.


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