As it was in the summer, Dean Henderson returning from loan to dislodge David de Gea was never going to be easy. De Gea can only be regarded as an icon in the post-Fergie United era. While, United has seen some dark times, living in the shadows of the clubs past, the Spaniard has shone the light that has kept United relevant in many ways.
However all things come to an end, is it the end for De Gea? however distasteful that may feel.
Gary Neville once described the number one spot at United as one of the most scrutinised in English football. With reports once again coming from the MEN, of dressing room unrest about the main man between the sticks, United’s vocal ex-right back has been proved right.Embed from Getty Images
According to reports, the relationship between De Gea and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has become “a problem”. The news comes as a fit David de Gea was benched in United’s victory against Brighton on Sunday night.
The reports also suggest Henderson was set to get a run in the team as early as February. An unhappy De Gea reaction followed and the Spaniard played instead. A similar pattern was played out in United’s goalless draw against Chelsea in February. Almost ironically, De Gea was the man of the match on the day.
There also seems to be a consensus at Old Trafford that Henderson’s United’s new number one as per the report.Embed from Getty Images
The treatment of De Gea is what raises the most eyebrows. A man that is fast approaching a decade of shot-stopping at United, you’d think he’d merit a little more respect. However, we’ve seen in the past, that United, maybe more than other clubs are notoriously ruthless in this respect.
In the mid-nineties, on the eve of Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest rebuild, United sold the likes of Mark Hughes, Andrei Kanchelskis in favour of a more youthful and vibrant United side. All played a vital role in United’s success at the time, but all were sold. You could argue they all had more to offer but Fergie felt the youth of United could offer more.Embed from Getty Images
There is also an argument to be made that the De Gea – Henderson conundrum is similar. Despite De Gea playing a huge role in United’s recent history, perhaps Solskjaer feels Henderson has more to offer right now.
There may be more fan murmurs surrounding Solskjaer’s decision to opt for Henderson because he doesn’t have as much credit in the bank. Ferguson made his decision following two league titles in three seasons. The Norwegian is still yet to win silverware at the club.
If Solskjaer’s decision is Henderson, does he have a point? Well yes. There is no doubt De Gea has failed to reach his lofty heights following his woeful World Cup display. Mistakes that we hadn’t seen since his first two seasons at the club crept back into his game. The more notable ones came against Arsenal, Watford and Barcelona. The biggest of his blunders came in the semifinal defeat against Chelsea.Embed from Getty Images
There have even been question-marks over the Spaniard’s attitude, with Mourinho according to his then Sky Sports punditry partner Graeme Souness feeling the goalkeeper “should’ve been in the team a couple of years ago” amidst question marks over De Gea’s application.Embed from Getty Images
Henderson on the other hand is a goalkeeper very much on the up. His seasons at Sheffield United prove he’s capable of being number one at a high level. Although being the man with the gloves at Old Trafford is a different kettle of fish, Henderson oozes an aura of confidence that he can and will be United’s number one. He’s able to command his box as well as vocally instruct his defence. The English international’s distribution against Real Sociedad in the first leg was also something to behold with 16 accurate passes as well as one key pass to boot.
Solskjaer has had a huge decision to make, but it seems to have already been made. Henderson could be seen dropping the ball in a shaky performance vs Brighton but that comes with the territory. More mistakes will come as he’s a young keeper and even De Gea made mistakes in his youth. But it really does seem like the end of an era at Old Trafford and the start of a new one spearheaded by a new man between the sticks.