·21 September 2023
·21 September 2023
In the haunting Allianz Arena, it was a night that Andre Onana would rather consign to history. Under the glinting lights of Bayern Munich’s arena, the Manchester United goalkeeper found himself at the vortex of a maelstrom not of his own choosing.
A Fateful Mistake
The evening began promisingly. Manchester United, with a disciplined sheen, seemed in control. Yet, the narrative took an agonising twist for Onana. A momentary lapse, a costly misjudgment, and the Red Devils found themselves at the mercy of a galvanised Bayern side. “We started very good. After my mistake we lost control of the game,” Onana lamented, addressing TNT Sports. Such moments epitomise the sport’s cruel dichotomy: glory and agony intertwined.
“This is the life of a goalkeeper,” he sighed. Despite the Reds being dominant and restricting Bayern from posing any significant threats, Onana’s error shifted the momentum. “Their first shot on target I made a mistake,” he continued, “It was the key point and the team went down because of that mistake.”
Echoes from the Sidelines
Rio Ferdinand, donning his punditry hat for TNT, couldn’t help but nod in agreement. “All the blame [for that goal] lays at his door,” he emphasised, “It’s not a hard shot to deal with. He’d expect to make that save.” Ferdinand’s words, piercing yet truthful, highlight a recurring pattern for Manchester United this season, with preventable goals becoming their undoing.
However, it would be unjust to pin the narrative solely on Onana’s lapse. After a high-profile £47.2m move from Inter Milan, following their commendable Champions League run, much was expected of the Cameroonian custodian. But the journey has been rocky, conceding 14 in six outings, epitomising a Manchester United side struggling to find consistent fortitude.
A Manager’s Rallying Cry
Manager Erik ten Hag, however, was quick to spread the blanket of responsibility across the team. “It’s good he’s doing that but it’s about the team,” Ten Hag commented, reinforcing the ethos of collective responsibility. “If one player makes a mistake, it’s done, its gone. We have to believe as a team that we can always bounce back.”
Indeed, despite the glaring error, Onana did thwart Bayern on five occasions, preventing a potential deluge of goals. And for Ten Hag, there were glimmers of hope amidst the gloom – fighting back into the contest twice showcased a spirit that’s still alive. Yet, vulnerabilities persist. “[We are] disappointed because we should stay in the game,” Ten Hag rued.
The Road Ahead
The Red Devils, in recent outings, have squared up against the footballing elite. But football is as much about bouncing back as it is about savouring the highs. Their journey now leads them to Burnley, another Premier League test. “Every game is important, every game is huge,” asserted Ten Hag. “We have to make our own luck. Nobody can help you. We, team, me included, only we can do it. It’s in our hands, nobody else.”
In this symphony of football, players like Onana dance on the razor’s edge, where a split-second can define a legacy. But as the dust settles on a turbulent night in Munich, Manchester United will look ahead, knowing that football, in its essence, always offers a shot at redemption.