Andre Onana: I have overcome mental demons after nightmare start at Man Utd

André Onana - Andre Onana: I have overcome mental demons after nightmare start at Manchester United

André Onana believes he has overcome the “mental” demons that contributed to his nightmare start at Manchester United.

The United goalkeeper has also revealed the key role his Old Trafford team-mates played in keeping up his spirits after a series of high-profile mistakes.

Blunders against Bayern Munich and Galatasaray (see below) in the Champions League and a number of suspect displays in the Premier League drew fierce criticism.

But Onana is confident he is through the worst of it and United fans are beginning to see why Erik ten Hag opted to sign the Cameroon international from Inter Milan for £47.2 million last summer as David de Gea’s replacement.

“I had a turning point, but not on the pitch… more mental,” Onana said ahead of United’s visit to champions Manchester City on Sunday.

“Of course, last season I moved from Amsterdam [with Ajax] to Milan but that adaptation was quite easy. But it took me seven, eight months here. It was just time to learn and go game by game. I hope we will end on top.

“I already know the goalkeeper that I am. It took me six months or seven months not to play good just to feel good. It was a difficult time for me. Now I’m feeling a bit better. Everything was new, it was difficult for me to feel at home for so many reasons… new country.

“Now I’m feeling good. I don’t want to talk about performance because I know the goalkeeper I am. The most important thing is to be set, to be happy and I will shine.”

Onana said his United team-mates had played an important role in helping him through his struggles.

“My team-mates – they always reminded me who I am and the goalkeeper I am and why I came to this club,” he said. “They told me, ‘André, it took some players two years, for others six months and others no time. You have that personality to turn the situation [around].’

“They always believed in me and told me from the beginning, ‘André, the quality is there, it’s just a matter of time.’

“I am very happy, especially with the supporters, the fans, they were nice with me even in difficult periods and I’m very thankful. I can only thank them. Everything is behind me, now we have to move on and together a great time will come. We just have to do the right thing and the future will be brilliant for all of us.”

Onana admitted United’s Champions League group stage exit was a reality check – having reached the final of the competition with Inter the previous season where they lost 1-0 to City.

“Playing in the final of the Champions League and being knocked out in the first stage after a few months later… it was a big lesson for me,” he said. “Now I think I have everything on my back, learn it, move on and try to be happy. That is the most important thing.”

Asked if he had been too hard on himself mentally, Onana added: “I don’t think so but it was just moments, sometimes you are faced with a difficult situation.

“I had a difficult six or seven months just feeling good, not playing good because I didn’t think I started to play good. So, it was just something strange.”

André Onana - Andre Onana: I have overcome mental demons after nightmare start at Manchester United
Onana joined United from Inter Milan, who he played for against Manchester City in last season's European Cup final - Getty Images/Robbie Jay Barratt

United risk falling 11 points adrift of the top four if they lose to City and Aston Villa beat Luton Town this week but Onana insists the team are determined to qualify for the Champions League and finish a troubled season on a high.

“One hundred per cent – that’s why we are here,” said Onana, who impressed in United’s 1-0 FA Cup fifth-round win over Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.

“We are going to try to end on top even if we have a lot of injuries. Of course it’s not an excuse but this season a lot of things happened, a lot of moments it was difficult for us.

“But as a Manchester United player you must win so we are all responsible for what happened. I take all the responsibility like always.

“I know how good we are and I believe in my players and that everything will change.”

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