Erik ten Hag has defended Andre Onana after the Man Utd goalkeeper's most recent mistakes; follow live updates of Newcastle vs Man Utd on Saturday (kick-off 8pm) across Sky Sports' digital platforms and watch free highlights shortly after the final whistle
Sunday 3 December 2023 07:40, UK
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has defended under-fire Andre Onana and insisted the Cameroon international is among the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.
Onana has repeatedly been in the spotlight since United spent £47m on the 27-year-old this summer to replace David de Gea, and although it had been felt his form was improving in recent weeks, Wednesday's 3-3 draw against Galatasaray was a clear setback as he was at fault for two goals.
Onana also made a mistake for a goal in United's Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich, but while he has struggled in Europe, Ten Hag pointed to the statistics that say Onana is second in saves made, save percentage and goals prevented in the Premier League.
"If you analyse it well then you see he is the second-best goalkeeper in the Premier League based on stats, so his expected defending goals is the second best in the Premier League," Ten Hag said.
"He's doing well. Also he knows that in the Champions League he makes some mistakes but all over you see the first five months he is doing particularly well."
Onana will face another major test on Saturday evening when United travel to Newcastle, who are on a five-game winning streak at St James' Park.
But Ten Hag does not expect Onana to suffer any hangover from Wednesday night.
"You have seen how he is reacting on a bad performance like in Munich," Ten Hag said.
"At Burnley (three days later) he was outstanding. He is a strong character, he is a personality and he will deal with it."
United said on Friday that left-back Tyrell Malacia, yet to feature this season after knee surgery, is on course to return early next year after requiring a second operation.
Mason Mount was also back in training on Friday but there is no timeframe yet for the midfielder's return.
Mount's absence has helped open the door for 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo, who excelled in last weekend's 3-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park and was impressive again in Istanbul.
"He showed on Sunday (at Everton) he was ready," Ten Hag said. "It looks like he always has time.
"He is scanning, he is running free, he is scanning to see the options and make the right decisions. He can delay, can speed up, he makes the right decisions."
Saturday's trip to the north east is a third straight away game for United, and another intimidating atmosphere after they faced an angry Goodison Park and the bear pit that is Galatasaray's Rams Park.
"I really respect them," Ten Hag said of Newcastle. "It's a difficult team to play but it's a good challenge and I like to play against it.
"We have to rise to the occasion, be our best against them because the way they play is very organised."
United go into the game on the back of five wins in their last six Premier League games, having put a rocky run of domestic form behind them to close in on the top four.
It stands in contrast to their European form, but Ten Hag believes performances have been good across the board.
"On Wednesday, we played very good, also in Copenhagen," he said. "Even in Bayern Munich we played very good. But we have to do some things better.
"Eliminate individual errors, defensive transition, but we can sort this out and I would be more concerned if we didn't play well."
Manchester United are the form team in the Premier League with five wins in six games but there's a sense Erik ten Hag's side have regressed this term and the stats back it up...