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'It literally was a battle every game'

Manny Onariase looks back on his loan spell at Cheltenham Town as well as a tough encounter with Manchester City at Griffin Park

21 May 2017

Defender Manny Onariase returned to Brentford after a loan spell with Cheltenham Town to play in the B Team's season finale against Manchester City at Griffin Park. The 20-year-old took time out after the game to catch us up on everything he has learned this season, as well as what he hopes to achieve next year.

"I think in the first half we got it spot on," said Manny, speaking after the final whistle on monday night. "We pressed them high and we won the ball back high. We were together as a team and we kept it moving. Second half, I think they changed formation and we just didn't suss it out. They had an extra player in midfield and they were playing through him a lot.

"I think we could have regrouped better, sorted out the problem better but the first half was good. We just need to build on that for next year."

Reflecting on the highlights from the match, Manny picked out the strike by his captain as one of the better moments for the team. He also acknowledged the differences he had to adapt to after coming back from his loan in the EFL.

"It was a brilliant goal from Zain Westbrooke, and there was some brilliant team play leading up to it. We saw the same from Man City as well.

"Being out on loan, playing in the league, is obviously different from playing 21s but both still require a lot. So it was a different style of play but it was good."

After spending some the 16/17 season with the B Team, Manny agreed a deal with Cheltenham to see where it could take him as a footballer. In interviews with Bees Review earlier in the year, he spoke about reaching for higher levels throughout a player's career. He was happy to have been given the chance to do that.

"It literally was a battle every game," said Manny. "But I've learned so much since I've been there. I've learned the importance of winning every battle and dominating your position. Every single player, when you dominate your player, then altogether as a team you generally win the game.

"I learned so much being out on loan. The mental toughness as well, the mental psychology of the fans as well as the pressure."

The Robins avoided relegation with a run of three wins in six at the end of the season before losing to Champions Portsmouth on the final day. Manny described what it was like to be part of the environment at Whaddon Road after confirming their league survival.

"What a feeling," he beamed. "Building up to it there was so much pressure but once you got through it, it just means everything. You see how much it means to the fans and to the Club. It was massive, what a feeling.

"I think it's taken me to the next level. As a footballer you need to have both, you need to have the physical side to dominate strikers and you need to be good on the ball. Playing 21s football brings that side out of you, being good on the ball, but being challenged on a physical side is what League Two gives you.

"You see Vincent Kompany, all the top defenders, they can do both. I think for me to excel in my career, to get to the next level, I had to go to League Two and learn that part of it. Winning your headers, tackling and being a proper defender. It's been really good."

Heading into the 17/18 campaign, Manny is confident in the targets he has set himself as an individual.

"Firstly, the first thing I'm looking forward to is the off-season. I've got a lot of work to do in the off-season and then come back pre-season really sharp and get fighting for a spot in the First Team. If not, then whatever happens happens, but I need to be on my tip top form."


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