The number 1 spot at Manchester United is often lauded as the most difficult position in Football. Legends of the game have worn that shirt and commanded Utd from the back. With this history comes immense pressure and only the best tend to shine. This is the case this season as well as there are 2 Goalkeepers vying for that position. Going into the summer Ole has a decision to make and it’s not an easy one. Let’s look at what there is to consider for the boss in the next few months.
David De Gea
The Spanish Supernova arrived in Manchester in June of 2011. Seen by Sir Alex as the heir to Edwin Van Der Sar the pressure was on De Gea from day one. HIs league debut wasn’t a sparkling one as he was criticized for failing to save a shot from Shane Long which resulted in a goal. Everyone in that squad backed him to succeed and he set about showing the world what he could do. After a shaky start the seasons that followed were nothing short of world class from De Gea.
He became the first player ever to win 3 back to back Player of years for the club as well as at one point being the best keeper in the world. There are some De Gea performances that us fans will remember forever. Most notably a game vs Arsenal in 2017 where he made a premier league record 14 saves in United’s 3-1 victory. So why the speculation of De Gea leaving the club?. Over the last couple of season there are points where De Gea has looked far from that world class goalkeeper. On a few occasions he has failed to stop shots that he would have saved in the past. As well as looking off the boil with his positioning. This combined with some poor distribution have forced Utd to sometimes look elsewhere for their starting GK.
A product of the Manchester United and Carlisle academies, Dean Henderson has had to bide his time to be a part of this conversation. He’s been on loan to 4 different clubs throughout his short career. He contributed to the promotion of Sheffield Utd as well as there impressive first season back in the top flight in 2020. It was these performances that caused Utd to not allow Henderson to leave on loan again this season. Now he has his eyes on De Gea’s spot. In his very few Man Utd starts, Henderson has already shown signs of promise. It is clear to see why many fans want him to start in goal next season.
Unlike De Gea, Henderson commands the box a lot more. He takes on a more modern sweeper keeper role – he is quick off his line to nullify any potential dangers. He also claims crosses whether they be from corners, free kicks or open play much better than De Gea. Pressure doesn’t phase him as we have already seen him pulling out big stops for Utd this season. Fans feel as though Henderson may have waited long enough for his chance. He’s repaying Ole for his faith this season without doubt.
Who Should Start?
Looking at it in detail, there are clear pros and cons to both options. Both of these players are Manchester United quality but keeping both is not an option. One of the players will need to move on this summer. If you keep De Gea, you are sticking with a player that has been with the club for almost a decade and is a fan favourite. He is an elite shot stopper on his day and it is hard to question his love for the club. In keeping De Gea, Man Utd could demand a high transfer fee for Henderson with the youngster’s clear potential.
Yet as of March 2021, De Gea has become a dad for the first time. With this news comes a great challenge. De Gea should he stay at the club would be far away from his child and girlfriend as they are both based in Spain. A move back for the Spanish International would allow him to be a lot closer to home. A loan move initially back to Spain as De Gea has very high wages would allow Utd to give Henderson the playing time he deserves. It means we haven’t committed to anything should Henderson’s form drop. At the end of the day, De Gea has done a lot for the club. We should allow him to move if Utd do look to sell.