Ole Gunnar Solskjær has made it clear to David de Gea that he faces a fight to remain Manchester United’s number one goalkeeper and that he should expect to share that duty with Dean Henderson at least for the remainder of the season.
De Gea has not played for United since the goalless draw at Chelsea on February 28 after returning to Spain for the birth of his first child. Henderson has started United’s last six games and, barring the mistake that caused Milan to draw late in the Europa League round of 16 first leg, the 24-year-old has impressed.
De Gea has seen Henderson’s last two performances, in the victorious second leg tie with Milan on March 18 and in the FA Cup loss to Leicester three days later, from the bench, and although he may return to the lineup. Sunday’s starter for the Premier League visit to Brighton, insists Solskjær, no longer sure of his spot.
“I have a choice of two high-level goalkeepers and of course they both want to play as much as possible, that will be decided based on merit,” said the United manager. “Hopefully we have nine plus five games left as we want to go all the way in the Europa League so I’m sure he will see them both play in goal.”
If Solskjær selected Henderson over De Gea on Sunday, it would be a significant move given that De Gea had been United’s first choice in the Premier League prior to paternity leave. It could also indicate a long-term changing of the guard, something on the line since Henderson returned from his loan at Sheffield United in August, at a time when De Gea’s future was being questioned after a series of unconvincing demonstrations. He has responded well but, increasingly, it seems that this season will be his last at United. If so, De Gea will have completed a decade of service, a period in which he was named United Fan Player of the Year in a record four times.
“Both [goalkeepers] we know we value them very much, ”said Solskjær. “It is a difficult decision to leave one of them out.”
The game against Brighton will be United’s first in the league for three weeks and they will have a chance to bounce back from their Cup exit. However, it will not be easy as they face a team that has won their last two matches and he has performed well all season. The hosts may be without Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood due to injury.
“We respect the way [they Brighton] play, ”Solskjær said. “We know that we have to do our best because we have to work very hard to take the ball away from them.”
Solskjær refused to be lured by United’s interest in Erling Haaland, but was more than happy to endorse the See red campaign, which launched Friday and encourages fans to report racism and other hate crimes to a new online system. The move is largely in response to footballer abuse on social media, with several United players, including Martial and Fred, attacked in recent weeks.
“I am proud that as a club we continue to campaign and this is certainly one that will have an impact,” said Solskjær. “It is time for action to take over the words.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism