Andre Onana Shouting At Harry Maguire Was Simply A Goalkeeper Doing His Job

The Manchester United goalkeeper has been under the spotlight
13:00, 01 Aug 2023

When Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana shouted at Harry Maguire for a mistake in a friendly against Borussia Dortmund, he could not have imagined what would follow. Goalkeepers displaying frustration at defenders is a tale as old as football itself. Maguire had limply given the ball away, inviting pressure and leading to two shots, one of which drew a fine save from the Cameroon international. 

Onana reasoned this was a fine time to dispense a brief, vociferous home truth. Maguire jogged off, hangdog expression in tow. Both men probably forgot the interaction before the 3-2 defeat had even concluded. But nothing escapes social media and before the whistle had even blown, those crucial few seconds had been clipped and distributed to millions.


The fact it was a Manchester United goalkeeper being singled out in this way was strange. Peter Schmeichel is lionised to this day for his forthright exchanges with his defenders. Even if a conceded goal had been the Dane’s fault, you better believe he’d still give his nearest teammate an earful. Back then they called it having high standards and it was a trait that was lauded. Simply part of the internally competitive atmosphere that kept Sir Alex Ferguson’s side ahead of the pack.

But what was once seen as intense professionalism is now a social media flashpoint. A few seconds debated for days. Onana has been asked for an explanation and, to his credit, has backed himself. The former Ajax and Inter Milan goalkeeper told reporters: “He has to be ready because when I’m on the ball I demand to everyone a lot.” Most fans would want to hear that from their goalkeeper. Shepherding the back line is a crucial part of the job and often that means making demands of the players in front of you. But United is a whole new spotlight to what Onana is used to.

The Red Devils are analysed in a way few other clubs are. Every minute melodrama is pored over by fans and the press. The spotlight burns at Old Trafford, a fact new signings have to get used to. Onana is getting his first taste of this scrutiny. It’ll come for Mason Mount and Rasmus Hojlund too. United is not a club for the anonymous.


This particular storm in a teacup is especially curious. But it is easy to see why it has taken hold as a major news story. Onana’s target has caused a lot of the fuss. Maguire is a divisive figure at Old Trafford. He has already lost the captaincy this summer and a lot of fans hope he has played his last Premier League game for the club. One wonders if this story would have travelled as far had the defensive mistake been made by Lisandro Martinez. If Raphael Varane had taken Onana’s ire. The culprit being Maguire fits what has at times been an odious narrative.

The fact it is preseason also helps a story like this carry weight. With little else going on in the world of men’s football as we prepare for a new season, the little things seem big. Would Onana’s outburst have been noteworthy on a Premier League weekend? Arguably not, considering the likes of Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale and Ederson would have likely been barking at their own defenders. 

What Onana did is what goalkeepers have always done. Maguire also did what defenders have always done. Mistakes happen and with the issues surrounding his future, it looked worse than it was. After all, friendlies used to be the place you made your mistakes. Now, like everything in football, they are packaged and sold as something far more important than they are. The same has happened with Onana’s very brief bout of shouting. A brief moment in an insignificant game has become a talking point around the world. But this too shall pass. If Maguire had managed to do the same, this would have never happened.

man utd to win the 23/24 epl: 11/1*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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