Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana shares truth about relationship with Erik ten Hag

Andre Onana
Onana has improved as the season has progressed. -Credit:ESPN

Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana stopped short of describing Erik ten Hag as his 'footballing uncle' but did admit to having a strong connection with the Dutchman.

Ten Hag decided to allow David de Gea to run down his contract last season and Onana was identified as the perfect candidate to succeed the long-serving Spaniard.

Onana was signed from Inter Milan for £47million and it was hoped he'd have a transformative effect on build-up play, but his first few months in Manchester were disappointing and he made a string of costly errors in the Champions League group stage.

However, there have been signs of improvement from Onana as the campaign has progressed and he's bounced back to produce strong performances in 2024.

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United fans have sympathised with Onana because of the number of shots conceded per game and he's done well to record eight clean sheets in the Premier League.

But United's performances haven't been good enough and Ten Hag looks likely to leave at the end of the season, regardless of whether he wins the FA Cup.

Ten Hag and Onana are working together for a second time after their stint at Ajax and when the goalkeeper was asked by ESPN if he was like a 'footballing uncle', he said: "Well, kind of. I'll be honest, there is a strong connection, but not only with Erik, but with the whole club, you know?

"It was really nice because I received a lot of positive messages when I arrived here. When I was facing difficulty here, [the] message from the fans, United fans [across] the world, was like, 'André, take your time. We know who you are and everything will be all right'.

"But it was strange because normally a fan, a normal fan is just looking for the result. But I received message[s]... 'André, don't worry, we are with you. Keep going'.

"They trust me and I was like, 'Wow, I never had this before'. Most of the time [wherever] you go, when you don't deliver in the beginning they're straight. It is difficult. But here they were very nice to me and I think it's time to maybe now start to pay that back."

United play Coventry City in the semi-finals of the FA Cup this weekend. "[We will] fight like a big final, like a final of the Champions League because at the end of the day it can be a tricky game because if you don't give them respect, they can be disrespectful," Onana said.

"So we are going to face them like a Premier League team. If they are there [in the semi-final], that means they have a lot of quality, so we're going to be ready for them and for us it's very important to win and we are going there with the winning mentality.

"It's no way to lose this game against them. So we are going there very positive with all of respect, but we must win."