United were always at risk of revisionism when they gave their goalkeeping department an overdue overhaul in the summer, with Andre Onana and Altay Bayindir arriving while both De Gea and Dean Henderson were sold. It had been clear for years that De Gea was on the decline, but he retained a cult following thanks to his legendary status at the club, which overlooked his many flaws and focused on his undeniable world-class ability to save shots.
There is a train of thought that says that is all that matters for a goalkeeper. If they keep the ball out of the net, they are doing their job. It&aposs an outdated philosophy, proven by the fact the best teams in the world all now have more modern goalkeepers who are more comfortable with their feet than their hands.
Read next: Tactical gamble failed for United vs Brighton
Player ratings: McTominay and Lindelof poor in Brighton defeat
De Gea was rightfully regarded as one of the best at producing sensational stops, but in recent years the numbers have dwindled, and many of them became acts of redemption after his initial mistake. He was a firefighter, combating his own acts of arson.
It is obvious Onana hasn&apost enjoyed the best start to life at United so far, but that doesn&apost mean there is any place for De Gea revisionism, given how much of a bigger problem he had become. At the same stage of last season, the Spaniard had faced nine shots on target and conceded seven goals, whereas Onana has conceded ten goals from the 30 he has faced.
It is also relevant to point out that none of Onana&aposs mistakes have been as inexcusable as those made by De Gea in the humiliating 4-0 defeat to Brentford last season. The Cameroonian isn&apost helped by the fact that his saving ability hasn&apost been quite up to scratch this season, one of the only areas in which De Gea is better than him, but his composure in possession has already been clear to see.
Onana has begun to change the way United will play, but it isn&apost a magic wand solution that will be implemented overnight, and it is quite obvious they need more time to adapt before they can be fairly judged. This should become a lot more apparent when he is playing in front of a settled defence as well, which is another reason why it has taken him a while to settle into his new surroundings.
United were happy with Onana&aposs shot-stopping ability when they signed him, but the main reason they did so was for his distribution skills and his calmness with the ball at his feet. In an ideal world, he wouldn&apost have had much to do in the opening matches of the season because United were supposed to dominate proceedings, but due to dire defending, he has been called into action a lot more than expected.
Onana is far from the main defensive problem at United so far this season, though his mistakes could soon become a problem if they start becoming the sole reason for dropped points. Until that becomes the case, the extensive criticism of the new goalkeeper is unnecessary, particularly when he is being compared with someone else who was even worse last season.
Ten Hag made his ruthless call, and now he must stick with it. Whether certain fans like it or not, Onana is a keeper.
Manchester United are back in the Champions League after an impressive first season in charge for Erik ten Hag.
Having won the famous trophy three times, the Reds have a wonderful history in the European Cup. Now the Dutchman has to live up to that legacy.
Our special preview of Uniteds 2023/24 Champions League campaign provides the ultimate guide to the tournament.