Home Football Give Onana A Break – Abah Isidore

Give Onana A Break – Abah Isidore

by Atlantic Chronicles
AC

The recent media onslaught on André Onana, especially from a biased British press and a naive Cameroonian media is sickening. Let Onana breathe.

Onana did not become a Man United goalkeeper by chance. He merited to be one, having proven his worth in Ajax and Inter of Milan, and emerging as one of the top five Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeepers in the world in 2023.

The barrage of criticisms and the insults directed at him is uncalled for.  It even becomes more disheartening when such gibberish is spewed by your own people.

After enduring a torrid time with a biased British press due to a waning Manchester United, Onana had hoped to find a safe haven in the Lions’ den. But a naïve Cameroonian media is proving to be more cancerous than the former.

When are we going to learn how to protect our own? Daily, the English media elevates mediocre and half-baked players and projects them as world-class players, and we (Africans) sheepishly buy into it.  Their real worth is only unveiled during international competitions. But when they scapegoat a world-class goalkeeper like Onana, who is better than most of theirs, we happily join in the dirge. What a shame!

Just for the record, despite having one of the worst seasons of his career, due to no fault of his, Onana has kept six clean sheets, the only two keepers ahead of him in this order are Allison Becker (7) and Jordan Pickford (7).

He is also among the top five keepers in the EPL with the highest number of saves (72) this season. Others are Wes Fonderingham (92), James Trafford(85),  Thomas Kaminski(81), Bernd Leno(78) and Alphonse Areola(72). If you look at every area where the services of a professional goalkeeper are needed, Onana tick all the boxes.

For those who are diehard Manchester United fans, they should know better that most, if not all the world-class goalkeepers that have represented the club in the past, have struggled in their first season in the club. I would give just a few examples:

In 1998, Fabien Alain Barthez won the World Cup with France, and two years later, (2000) he joined Manchester United. Even though Manchester United won the title in the 2000/2001 season, Barthez had an awful season with the team. A season which the former French international described in one of his interviews as “Nightmarish.”

In 2005, Edwin van der Sar joined Manchester United from Fulham FC. Despite van der Sar’s stellar performance with Fulham the previous year, he had a difficult time with Man Utd. But he went on to become one of the legends of the club.

Again, in   2011, David de Gea Quintana joined Manchester United for a British record fee of £18.9 million for a goalkeeper at the time. Before moving to Manchester, de Gea had helped Atlético Madrid win the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup in 2010.  But he struggled in Manchester to nail down a starting berth and he was constantly rotated with Danish goalkeeper, Anders Lindegaard.

de Gea went on to become a legend at United. If these world-class goalkeepers could struggle during their first year in Manchester United, when the club was still well structured and well managed, imagine an Onana now in a club that is totally in shambles and begging for redemption from its ruins.

Please before you cast aspersion on Onana, also look at the teams he is representing and the structure of the team.

Just like Manchester United, the Cameroon national team is in a transitional period with a coach who is almost clueless and still horning his skills on the job. A crop of players that are inexperienced and even lack the Lions’ fighting spirit, which has been the main ingredient of Cameroon’s national team over the years.  Most of them are returnees, just trying to find their way in a country they now call theirs. Don’t make Onana your scapegoat because the media have found a soft-landing spot on him.

Let Onana breathe.

By Abah Isidore, Award-winning Cameroon Journalist and Scholar.

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