Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed Dean Henderson to be ‘a very good challenger’ to David de Gea’s status as Manchester United’s first-choice goalkeeper next season.
Henderson is currently enjoying his second successive season on-loan at Sheffield United, the 22-year-old having helped the Blades to promotion last season before starring during the club’s impressive return to the Premier League under Chris Wilder.
De Gea has come under fire for his performances this season and made a howler during Manchester United‘s 1-1 draw at Everton on Sunday, taking far too long on the ball before kicking his clearance against the onrushing Domonic Calvert-Lewin to hand the Toffees an early lead at Goodison Park.
The error was De Gea’s seventh leading to a goal since the start of last season – the joint-most in the Premier League – and there is a growing clamour for Henderson to be handed his opportunity at Old Trafford next season.
Solskjaer has defended De Gea following his latest mistake but says Henderson will be welcomed back into the fold next term, admitting the youngster will provide serious competition for the Spain international.
“We want the best possible squad for Man Utd and Dean’s our player,” Solskjaer told his post-match press conference at Goodison Park.
“He’s doing really well at the moment, and the day he comes back he’s obviously fighting to play here as well.
No goalkeeper has made more errors directly leading to Premier League goals than David de Gea (7) since the start of last season.
On three for the current season. pic.twitter.com/85UbV0DRpi
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 1, 2020
“But David’s shown his reaction, the way he made amends and saved [Gylfi] Sigurdsson’s chance at the end.
“David’s the best goalkeeper in the world, Dean is a very good challenger and then Sergio [Romero, the current No.2] is a decent challenger as well.
“We want a squad full of quality and with competition and if you want to survive at the top you need to bounce off competitions from right, left and centre.”
Former United captain Roy Keane was scathing in his assessment of De Gea’s error, blasting the 29-year-old’s ‘arrogance’ after what could prove to be a costly mistake in the club’s pursuit of a top four finish and Champions League qualification.
“As a manager or player I’d kill him! You’d kill him!” Keane said on Sky Sports.
“He’s a goalkeeper being too clever. He just takes too long. What is he waiting for?!
“If you’re going to make a decision at least do it quickly. These are huge moments for United in terms of trying to get into the top four, and you’ve got your experienced goalkeeper… what is he waiting for?! I think there’s almost a bit of arrogance to it, ‘look at me…’
“I would have lynched him at half-time. I’d have no time for that carry on.”
See also – Premier League Weekend: Heroes and Villains