Andre Onana has been a downgrade – AFCON will allow Erik ten Hag to dump keeper

The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) cannot come soon enough for Manchester United flop Andre Onana and his boss Erik ten Hag.

Onana won't be placed into winter hibernation, because of his commitments to Cameroon. But the fact he could be out of sight and mind for Ten Hag for a possible seven weeks will feel like heaven to the Dutchman. Onana's decision to reverse his international retirement is now starting to look like a blessing in disguise for Ten Hag.

Because he will know by now that signing the goalkeeper to replace David de Gea at one of the most demanding clubs in world football was a mistake. United's failure to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League isn't just down to Onana.

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But he's had quite a hand in what has been a shambolic group stage for United. Forget Christmas. Thursday nights are coming to Old Trafford, in the shape of the Europa League perhaps, which reflects the unacceptable standards United continue to set.

Few tears were shed for De Gea when he left United last summer. He was the club's highest paid star and appeared to have become past his best. But he remains available for nothing, because he hasn't signed for another club.

And right now, the Spaniard must be getting some regretful glances in his direction from those back in Manchester who chose a dud to fill his shoes. The upgrade appears to be a downgrade. Since the 2018-19 season, Onana has made the most errors leading to opposition goals by goalkeepers in the Champions League, with seven costly mistakes.

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There is nowhere to hide as a keeper at the highest level, let alone one floundering around between the posts for a team like United. De Gea made mistakes, of course he did, but he also won United more than his fair share of matches.

Onana is achieving nothing more tangible than costing United games. Wouldn't it have made more sense to keep De Gea for one more season and allow Onana to learn from him?

He had no experience of the Premier League, after all. It's the most demanding and high-profile competition in domestic football around the world. Life for United is hard enough right now, without their goalkeeper making things worse.

His horror show in Istanbul against Galatasary ruined most of United's good work – and it's impossible to see how Onana can still command the trust of his team-mates.

Once this has gone, Ten Hag has a problem he has to fix immediately. Altay Bayındır and Tom Heaton are waiting in the wings. Bayndir is a Turkish international, while Heaton has bags of experience when it comes to English football.

It remains to be seen if Ten Hag takes the plunge now, or waits until Onana has left the building to decide who steps up in goal. But on the current evidence, either of these has to be a better option than Onana.

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