The Debate: How Onana could affect the team
Manchester United's new signing Andre Onana should bring an abundance of different qualities to the goalkeeping role, which befit the style of play manager Erik ten Hag wants to adopt.
That was the view of our panellists on The Debate on MUTV, as they discussed how the Cameroonian's performances could impact the team and how quickly he may have an effect on the pitch.
The ability of Onana, who previously worked under Ten Hag at Ajax, to play out from the back is well documented, but Danny Webber feels he has to fulfil all elements expected of a goalkeeper - something he believes our new no.24 is capable of doing.
“You can see the importance from Tom Heaton’s ball for the first goal [against Arsenal] of being able to play from the back and not just clear it,” said Webber.
“Tom’s pass was a long pass, so having the ability with your feet is really important.
“But, first and foremost, the manager said it the other day, he’s got to keep the ball out of the net. It’s all well and good having the good feet but if you’re not keeping the ball out of the back of the net or demanding from people in front of you, then you’re not doing all of your job. But I expect him to do all of those things and do it well.”
As Ten Hag seeks to play a more progressive brand of football, Bryan Robson believes Onana and his team-mates must be wise to tactics from opponents and use their ‘football brain’ to be able to mix their game up when required - which could be aided by one experienced Red in particular.
“The manager obviously wants to play from the back," Robbo told The Debate. "I always look at it though in certain games, when you’re playing away from home especially, when teams have seen the way you’re going to play from the back and they come up and they really press you, and the fans are up for the game - a bit like Sevilla last year when we got beat over there.
“It all came because we encouraged their fans, we encouraged them to press us and we put in a really poor performance. The players on the pitch have got to realise that.”
Former United captain Robson continued: “If people are getting success pressing you, now, all of a sudden, everyone can get up the park and we kick long for a little while. When the game settles down, the fans go a little bit more quiet, now we go and play. For me, I saw it in certain games last year, Casemiro is really good at realising how the game situation is.
“At certain times, he will go ‘no let’s go, two centre halves split, we’ll play it from the back with the goalkeeper, you can play it into me and I’ll come in between you’ and they play out, which the manager wants you to do. But, at certain times, when people are really up against you and you’re winning the game, now Casemiro will go ‘go and split, waste a little bit of time, and now we’ll push up and kick long’.
“It’s using your football brain and Casemiro can definitely do that, which is pleasing to see because you’ve got to mix your game up. You can’t just play the same all the time, otherwise the opposition know exactly what you’re going to do.”
Onana could make his first appearance in a United shirt against Real Madrid - in Texas on Thursday (kick-off 01:30 BST) - in a game you can watch live on MUTV.