I want to ‘pay back’ United fans for their support – Onana

André Onana has said he wants to “start to pay back” Manchester United fans for their support at the start of the season as he adjusted to life at Old Trafford.

The Cameroon international, who joined United for £47 million ($59.4m) from Inter Milan last summer, had been integral to the Serie A club’s run to the Champions League final in 2023. No goalkeeper kept more clean sheets (8) than he did in the 2022-23 edition of the tournament.

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Onana’s start to his time at the club was marked by turbulence. He made high-profile errors in the Champions League against Bayern Munich and Galatasaray and conceded 15 goals across six games as United finished bottom of their group.

The 28-year-old has previously admitted that it took him six months to “just to feel good” at United, but his upturn in form has been a rare bright spot in what has been a difficult season for United.

In an exclusive interview with ESPN, Onana revealed how he was blown away by the backing he received from United fans during those early struggles.

“I received a lot of positive messages when I arrived here and when I was facing difficulty here, [the] message from the fans, from Manchester United fans [across] the whole world there was like, ‘André take your time. We know who you are and everything will be all right,'” he said.

“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 with me and I think it’s time maybe now to start to pay back now because they were very nice with me.”

Onana also spoke of how he harnessed patience and positivity from within to get through that period.

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Onana thanks Man United fans for support during shaky start

Andre Onana reacts to some of the criticism and support he received during the early stages of his Manchester United career.

“Now we are all human being, sometimes you are right, sometimes you’re wrong. So you just have to know how to deal with these kind of things. But I always say you never lose in life, you win or you learn. So when you don’t win, you learn. So you just have to make sure if things are not going how you want — [be] patient keep working and it will,” he said.

“I [don’t know] if it’s today, maybe I hope we can turn everything today, but if it’s not today it’ll be tomorrow. If it’s not tomorrow, be patient. It’ll be after tomorrow. So you have to be patient, but they tell me that you have to be resilient, then you never have to give up. Because if you give up, better don’t step in the pitch.

“We have been in this game for long already, so we all know what we did to reach this level. I know what I did to reach Manchester United. So I just have to continue working hard and things will be all right for all of us.”

United’s stuttering league form has left them seventh in the table and early exits from the Champions League and League Cup has seen the FA Cup emerge as their only chance of obtaining silverware this season. They face Coventry City in the semifinal on April 21 and Onana said United won’t be taking the Championship side lightly.

“[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. So we are going to face them like a Premier League team,” he said.

“If they are there [in the semifinal], 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.”