Gary Neville has explained why he believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is ‘right’ to stick by David de Gea as Manchester United’s first-choice goalkeeper this season.
United’s goalkeeping position was a source of debate heading into the season with the position of De Gea questioned, the Spaniard’s status threatened following a period of inconsistent form and the return of Dean Henderson to Old Trafford.
Henderson had excelled during a two-year loan spell at Sheffield United and there was a growing clamour for his inclusion in the side, with De Gea having struggled to replicate his previous performances and coming under criticism for a number of mistakes.
Sheffield United had been keen to resign Henderson who was convinced to fight for a first-team place with the Red Devils this season, though the 23-year-old has played a back-up role so far and has made just a handful of appearances in cup competition.
Neville believes that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made the correct decision in sticking with De Gea, who has enjoyed an upturn in form amid the competition for the number one shirt.
Neville added that he will reserve ‘judgement’ on the ability of Henderson until the goalkeeper has had an extended run in the side, admitting many young goalkeepers have previously struggled with the pressures of playing for the club.
“I think De Gea is the No 1 as Henderson has a lot to do in my mind. I don’t get carried away by a young and talented goalkeeper at Manchester United,’ the club legend told Viaplay Fotball.
“I’ve seen it before over the last 25 years where there have been young and talented goalkeepers who have threatened to come in but to stand in those goals at the club, in particular when fans come back into the stadium, then they are big, big boots to fill. Only Edwin van der Sar and Peter Schmeichel have filled those boots in my time, while David de Gea has now.
“I think he’s [De Gea] probably been better this season. I was nervous about him towards the end of last season and I think even Ole would’ve been looking at him and thinking ‘you’re not far away from being left out’.
“But I think now he’s stuck with him, which I think is the right thing to do. If you’re going to take someone like him out then you have to make sure that you’re absolutely certain because once you take him out of the team you really are moving his confidence away and he may as well leave the club.
“For me, I think it’s exciting that Henderson is coming through but I reserve my judgement on whether he can become somebody who can go in Manchester United’s goal in the next 10 years.”