Manchester United’s goalkeeping position has been causing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a headache for quite some time now – with two first choice shot-stoppers in David De Gea and Dean Henderson both vying for the right to wear to the club’s number one jersey, Solskjaer has been forced to rotate both players.
However, following the summer signing of Tom Heaton from Aston Villa, speculation that one of De Gea or Henderson’s time at Old Trafford may be coming to an end has intensified.
Despite the uncertaintly, De Gea looks set to start the new 2021-22 season in between the sticks after teammate Henderson recently tested posititve for COVID-19.
Speaking of what a prolonged period on the sidelines may mean for the English keeper, former midfielder Luke Chadwick, who spoke exclusively to CaughtOffside, thinks Henderson may move on, but not until January.
“I think by default it looks like David de Gea will start the season as number one,” Chadwick said. “Dean Henderson’s had an injury and is now suffering with Covid, so I think he’ll end up slotting into the number two position and that will roll on until January when the speculation starts again.
“De Gea obviously ended last season as first choice, he started the Europa League final. Henderson had a run in the team and perhaps didn’t excel as we thought he could, with De Gea then getting the nod in the final. He didn’t cover himself in glory in the penalty shoot-out, and you then thought that might change things.
“But I think it’s been taken out of Ole’s hands really, as no one’s going to sign an injured or ill Dean Henderson, so now I think it will rumble on with De Gea starting the season again.
“It’s his place to lose really, if he can put in the kind of fantastic performances that he has in the past, then I think it might be Henderson who moves on in January. I think people, myself included, have swayed between one and the other over the last 6-12 months.
“You’d expect Tom Heaton is coming in as the number two, so if there are two top ‘keepers pushing for the number one spot, in my experience it usually means one of them will move on.
“It does make things a bit complicated in the goalkeeping department, the outfield players as well will want to know who’s going to be starting. It does make for a healthier squad if people know where everyone stands. It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next six months but I don’t expect anything to happen this summer with any of the United goalkeepers.”
Solskjaer and his coaching team will now be preparing for the side’s opening game of the new season.
Set to host bitter rivals Leeds United at Old Trafford on 14 August, United will be desperate to get off to a winning start – something they failed to do against Crystal Palace on the opening day of last season.