Rio Ferdinand thinks Andre Onana’s impressive stop on a penalty kick against Copenhagen could be the catalyst for his Manchester United comeback. Erik ten Hag’s team defeated the Danish champions at home in the Champions League thanks to a magnificent save from Onana, who denied Jordan Larsson from the spot. It follows a challenging first two months for the club for the former Ajax and Inter goalkeeper.
Ferdinand had previously compared the Cameroonian’s error-strewn start at Old Trafford to that of David De Gea 12 years previously. The Spaniard was the long-term No.1 for United but had endured a difficult opening few months, in which he adapted to English football.
Ferdinand told his Five podcast earlier this month, after Onana was disappointed in the goal conceded against Brentford: “He should have made the save. In training, he probably makes that save every day. I saw a quote from Peter Schmeichel, who spoke to him and told him not to let [the pressure of] Man United get to you.
“At the moment, there are nerves that are in there, because of the mistakes. A lot of people are asking if he can recover.” Ferdinand then added, of the comparison to De Gea’s early days: “I was there when De Gea came. He was obviously younger but he didn’t start well, you know. I think in his first 10 games or so, the numbers are similar to Onana.
“If you were to speak to Onana himself, I think he would say, ‘This is not the start I wanted, this is no way near the level I am used to performing at and this is not the standard required at Man Utd so I need to buck up my ideas’.”
Despite his error against the Bees, Onana produced several fine saves in that match and United ground out a hard-fought 2-1 victory. The Cameroonian has now backed that up with back-to-back solid displays and victories, including his memorable penalty save against Copenhagen.
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Pundit Paul Scholes told TNT Sports after the match, believing the moment would be a major shot in the arm for Onana: “He became a hero. It will do him the world of good.” That drew concurrence from Ferdinand, who believes that can be the moment that properly starts the goalkeeper’s career at Old Trafford.
“This could change his season and I hope it does confidence-wise,” Ferdinand explained. “I hope he grows now. This is massive for him getting confidence now and he can go from strength to strength. All players need that and I’d like to think this is the one.”
United boss Ten Hag said of Onana after the win over Copenhagen: “Andre had a good game, he made a brilliant save just after half time too. He showed personality. He knows what his skills are, and he didn’t match his skills [previously].