When asked about Dean Henderson before Manchester United played Sheffield United in June, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “Eventually he will end up as England and Manchester United number one.”
The question is when will that be?
There’s a strong argument that should happen sooner rather than later. If the rules would allow – and I’m pretty sure they don’t – I would like to see Henderson back in United’s squad for the Europa League next month.
Not because David De Gea has suddenly become a bad goalkeeper. He’s a top goalkeeper who needs to rediscover his form. He’s still only 29. And that’s young for a keeper.
We need competition for places in every position. Even goalkeeper. And qualifying for next season’s Champions League is the No.1 goal for Manchester United in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first full season.
Of course we’ve already got another world class goalkeeper in Sergio Romero. So what does Ole do against David Moyes’ buoyant West Ham tonight. Stick with De Gea or throw Romero into the spotlight.
time to be ruthless
In my opinion it’s time for Ole to be ruthless. But I expect Ole to stand by his man, unlike Alex Ferguson who left Jim Leighton out of the 1990 FA Cup Final Replay after his former Aberdeen keeper looked dodgy in the initial 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace.
David de Gea’s confidence is shot. And I believe he should be rested. Not just because he’s not in good form. But for his own protection. There have been several times this season when I felt De Gea could have benefitted from being rested. In fact ever since he signed a massive new contract our Spanish No.1 has not been consistent.
Ole deserves credit for standing by his goalkeeper through some tough times this season. But there comes a point when a player keeping his place in the team, however badly he performs, is just not good for him or the morale of the rest of the squad.
Romero has always performed well for United and deserves his chance. Understandably he was gutted not to play in the FACSF against Chelsea on Sunday. He must be wondering when he will ever get another big game.
Well, surely that time is now. And United’s whole season depends on a good result tonight against West Ham.
the final showdown
Keep a clean sheet and win the game and we take a giant step towards next season’s champions league with a final showdown at Leicester on Sunday.
A big win on Wednesday means we could go to Leicester and still qualify with a narrow defeat. Lose against West Ham and Leicester would only need a draw. While a draw against West Ham means we fall at the final hurdle if we lose against Leicester.
This match against West Ham is massive. But the game against Leicester will be even bigger.
Win both and we can finish in third place. Chelsea, currently in that position, finish up with Liverpool away tonight and then Wolves, who need a win to qualify for the Europa League.
All will be decided on Sunday. But tonight against West Ham is as big as they come. And this is potentially one of the most important decisions Ole will ever make. It will certainly tell us a lot about his style of management.
As I’ve said, I wont be surprised if Ole decides to stick with De Gea. And if he does, I pray there are no more costly blunders. Romero deserves a chance and he has experience on the biggest stage. Whatever decision Ole makes I trust his judgement. But the truth is that ultimately he will be judged on the result.
After crashing so badly against Chelsea the pressure is on our boys to deliver. And I’m sure they’ll be feeling that pressure after the way the last 3 matches have unfolded.
It’s our last home match of the season. And even though there won’t be any fans there I’m sure the weight of expectation will be felt by all the players.
This is football and anything can happen. That’s why we love the game.
But, I’m confident that whoever plays in goal we will score more than West Ham. I believe our front three of Martial, Rashford and Greenwood will deliver, with Fernandes, Pogba and Matic controlling the midfield.
An early United goal or two would steady the nerves. And if that happens we have the firepower to blow the Hammers away. But a strong start by West Ham and we could be in for another challenging evening.
Come on United.