The Ralf Rangnick Era: Five players who could flourish and five who could leave

Manchester United started off the Ralf Rangnick era with a top performance against Crystal Palace last weekend, running out 1-0 winners in a game where United could have scored five. The instant impact of Rangnick’s arrival was evident from the first whistle, with United pressing high up the pitch and recovering the ball quickly. This type of pressing and control is a different style of playing in comparison to recent years, so in this article we’ll take a look at five players who could flourish and five who may be heading for the exit:

Five Who Could Flourish:

1. Fred

The first player in this list is almost an obvious pick after recent performances. The 28-year-old Brazilian has been hugely impressive in the last four games, sticking to his best attributes of breaking up play and providing energy in United’s midfield. 

If Fred was capable of doing this consistently then there’s no doubt around the fact that he’d be considered one of the top midfielders in the league, however this has not been the case during his time at United thus far. Fortunately, with Ralf Rangnick’s preference for fast and high pressing football, Fred may be better suited to perform to his best ability more consistently.

Already proving to be the matchwinner in his first game under Rangnick, Fred produced a brilliant performance- deservedly winning man of the match. With all of this being said, under Rangnick’s expert coaching and being well suited to United’s new system, Fred is one of the players who will look to improve the most over the next six months; and hopefully finally fulfil his full potential for United.

2. Victor Lindelof

Victor Lindelof is a player who may be surprised that he’s currently featured so frequently in the United starting eleven, however an injury to Raphael Varane has afforded the Swede an opportunity to stake a claim for a permanent spot. The 27-year-old has actually been one of United’s better performing defenders this season, although that’s not saying too much. 

Having just been promoted to Sweden captaincy it seems Lindelof has gained more maturity and this is showing in his performances. During Rangnick’s first game in charge, Lindelof was aggressive and tenacious when pressing further up the pitch. Additionally, he was able to pass out accurately and switch the play with ease, which was to the benefit of United’s charging fullbacks and forwards.

It’s likely that when Varane comes back from injury Lindelof will be delegated to the bench once more, however this isn’t certain as club captain Harry Maguire has had an awful season so far. Whether Lindelof manages to become a regular starter or not, there’s some good signs for a high level of performance from the Swedish captain, suited to Rangnick’s affinity for pressing high and aggressively.

3. Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood burst onto the scene at United as a teenage sensation, managing to bag a hugely impressive 19 goals in the 2019/2020 season. While not quite reaching those numbers last season, Greenwood has started this season well- scoring some brilliant goals already. 

Greenwood has already scored five goals in all competitions thus far and has the potential to surpass his impressive haul of 19 from a couple of seasons ago. The 20-year-old registered an assist in Rangnick’s first game in charge and scored a stunning goal in United’s final Champions League group game against BSC Young Boys

The deadly forward was largely restricted to a role on the wing in recent years, but with Rangnick’s preferred 4-2-2-2 system Greenwood may be able to start as one of the two strikers more regularly, allowing him ample opportunity to score. 

Rangnick has already spoken about Greenwood’s talent and potential, having been impressed with his performances so far this season, which means Greenwood should mature into an even more deadly forward under Rangnick.

4. Diogo Dalot

United have relied on Aaron Wan-Bissaka as the right-back option heavily during his time at the club, while Portuguese Diogo Dalot has been second choice. Dalot, who joined from Porto, was touted as one of the most promising fullbacks in world football when he initially signed. 

Unsurprisingly, the 22-year-old has failed to live up to the hype just yet, although there is still ample time for him to develop his game. Dalot moved to AC Milan in 2020 for a moderately successful loan spell, which many thought would lead to his permanent sale. 

This didn’t happen though, and it now looks likely that Dalot may be able to displace out of form Bissaka for the starting spot in the team. As mentioned previously, Rangnick likes proactive football with high pressing and attacking fullbacks- something more suited to Dalot’s natural game than Wan-Bissaka’s. 

In the game against Crystal Palace Dalot was a constant threat, overlapping and knocking balls into the box all game. In addition to this he came very close to scoring at the end of the first half after a nice run. Rangnick may well just prefer to use Dalot as his starting right-back, which could lead to the Portuguese’s best run of form yet.

5. Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho’s start to life at United has not quite been what he or the fans may have expected, however in the last week or so there are signs that he might start hitting form. Sancho struggled under former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, spending more time on the bench than he would have liked. 

However, it looks like Sancho may be granted a first team role under Rangnick, playing in one of the number 10 roles alongside Bruno Fernandes.  After scoring twice in one week under Michael Carrick, Sancho may start performing to his best ability under a new manager who actually tried to sign him several years ago.

Rangnick recognises the talent in the young English forward after presumably watching him intensely during his career at Borussia Dortmund. Playing in an inside 10 role may benefit Sancho, who can start linking up with the strikers and fullbacks more cohesively, which should ultimately lead to a flurry of goals and assists.

Five Who Could Leave:

1. Anthony Martial

After announcing himself in dramatic style against Liverpool in 2015, Anthony Martial has never fully reached that same height again. The Frenchman has had periods of good form but has never consistently impressed or shown enough to be a first choice Manchester United striker. 

Since the arrivals of the likes of Edinson Cavani and Jadon Sancho, Martial has been starved for game time or any kind of good form. News also broke this week from Martial’s agent Philippe Lamboley, stating the striker wishes to leave the club in January due to his lack of game time, which all but confirms the exit is looming for the once promising 26-year-old.

2. Eric Bailly

Eric Bailly is a player that has only recently signed a new deal with United, yet presently sits as fourth choice centre-back. The Ivorian has expressed his desire to play games and help the club, yet under Solskjaer this opportunity was not presented. Bailly has a high level of talent but his tendency to make rash decisions holds him back from being selected week in week out. 

Theoretically Bailly fits in with Rangnick’s high intensity pressing football perfectly, but it looks like he will have to settle with being a squad player after the arrival of Raphael Varane and the good form of Victor Lindelof, plus the fact that it’s likely club captain Harry Maguire will be retained as a starter. All of this being said, Bailly will probably look to seek another club in order to gain more playing time.

3. Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson looked very likely to replace David de Gea as United’s number one goalkeeper towards the end of last season, however a De Gea resurgence has shut down any chance of that happening. 

Henderson possesses enormous amounts of talent for such a young goalkeeper, and certainly doesn’t lack the confidence necessary to be United’s first choice goalkeeper. Henderson played in United’s final Champions League group game against BSC Young Boys, putting in a confident display complete with elements of a sweeper- keeper. 

This would be to Rangnick’s liking, however the United manager has made it clear that De Gea is number one, which could indicate rumours about a potential loan or permanent move away could become something more concrete.

4. Jesse Lingard

The longstanding saga surrounding Jesse Lingard and his United future should finally come to a close under Rangnick’s reign as manager. While there are no doubts surrounding the quality Lingard has, it’s clear the academy graduate wants to be starting games, deservedly so too. West Ham looked like a likely destination after an impressive loan spell there last season, although Newcastle United are starting to show interest as well. 

Lingard will suit Rangnick’s style of pressing, but it feels like it’s too late for the 28-year-old to revive his United career at this point.

5. Juan Mata

Juan Mata has been an excellent servant to United since joining back in David Moyes’s short spell as manager. Mata has always oozed class when playing but he finally seems to be at the stage where his body can no longer cope with the rhythm and intensity of the Premier League. 

The 33-year-old has only made three appearances so far this season and there have been suggestions Mata may prefer a return to Spain sooner than later. It’s distinctly obvious Mata is the wrong type of profile to carry out the intensive pressing style of play United are expected to develop over the next six months, meaning a January or summer exit is on the cards.

In addition to the players mentioned above there are still several futures that could pan out either way- including the likes of Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba. Rangnick will be keen to trim the squad down and assemble a team more in his image over the next few months, and if successful United may finally compete for the Premier League title once more.

Written by Sam Wilson

Dean Henderson: Resigned to a season of stagnation?

It was towards the back end of last season that it really seemed like Dean Henderson was pushing to establish himself as the new number one at Manchester United. Unsurprisingly there has nearly always been great figures in between the sticks at Old Trafford, from Peter Schmeichel to Edwin van der Sar, the goalkeeper position has been in good hands over the years. 

Over the last decade or so this position has been claimed and firmly cemented by Spaniard David De Gea, who has gained cult status amongst United supporters for his legendary performances and unwavering commitment to the club. De Gea has won the Player of the Year award four times during his tenure at the club, more than any United player ever. 

However, when De Gea began faltering last season it looked inevitable that Henderson would take over the reigns as number one this term, but unfortunately for the Englishman, it’s not quite panned out that way.

Displacing the veteran De Gea was never going to be easy for Henderson, after all, De Gea has swatted away all challengers to his position over the years. There was once a case for Sergio Romero to get more game time, since whenever he filled in for De Gea it would be a competent and impressive goalkeeping display, affectionately earning him the unofficial title of ‘best backup goalkeeper in the world’ amongst United supporters. 

Nevertheless, even with Romero’s impressive performances the enduring presence of De Gea remained, whenever there was a dip in form there was always a recovery, or a world class display somewhere around the corner to remind everybody of his number one status. Eventually Romero left United; far too good to be sitting on the bench for the club week in week out, Henderson does not want to suffer the same fate. 

The United academy graduate has outlined his grand ambitions of being both number one for United and England, which doesn’t seem impossible considering the amount of talent Henderson naturally possesses. Still, the rate at which Henderson can achieve these objectives has to be called into question. 

The goalkeeper certainly wouldn’t have expected to be starting nearly every game on the bench this year, making just the one appearance in the Carabao cup so far. As mentioned, last season there was far more rotation amongst the goalkeepers with De Gea’s unreliable form, Henderson ended up playing 26 times in all competitions and kept 13 clean sheets. 

By the end of the season, talk of a rivalry between Henderson and De Gea was everywhere in the media, and it seemed very likely De Gea would be displaced after a poor performance in the Europa League final; capped off with a terrible saved penalty to confirm the defeat.

In contrast, De Gea has regained form this season and managed to hit incredible highs with some of his performances, while Henderson has had numerous setbacks. One such setback was a hip injury that forced Henderson to withdraw from England’s Euro squad, a disappointing development for someone with ambitions of being number one someday.

On top of this, Henderson then managed to pick up Covid in mid-July after returning from injury, further stifling his momentum and good form from last season. It was also around this time that De Gea decided to return from his summer break early, expressing his desire to regain form and cling onto his number one status. 

All things considered, it worked for the Spaniard, as he is undoubtedly still number one and in his best form for years. It’s likely a combination of all the events mentioned previously were a factor in De Gea’s upturn, Henderson’s slump due to injury and Covid leaving the door open just wide enough for De Gea to prove himself once more. 

So where does this all leave the 24-year-old now? Unquestionably the double whammy of an injury with Covid are going to have both a physical and mental effect on the goalkeeper, but the psychological implications are going to feel more severe since the number one spot was so close. 

It’s important for Henderson not to get despondent, he is very young by a goalkeeper’s standards; but patience only extends so far after a while. Henderson is too good to be sitting on the bench, and while young, he is experienced enough to be starting for a top team. 

A two-year loan spell at Sheffield United feels like an age ago now, a period in which Henderson was sensational, helping Sheffield to promotion and subsequent survival in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ruled out the possibility of a loan this year, although there was speculation recently that Henderson may seek to return to Sheffield in January if his playing time doesn’t improve.

Looking forward, Henderson needs more game time if he is to carry on progressing into one of the top goalkeepers of the world. Sadly, it appears as though this season Henderson will stagnate more than progress, as even if afforded a little game time there comes a period where regular playing time is necessary to reach a higher level.

This being said, the Englishman needs to show off his credentials when afforded the chance to play, hopefully not letting the less-than-ideal situation affect his form. 

In the long-term, a solution must be found for Henderson where he is playing every single game. United cannot sustainably hold onto two world class talents and not play one of them, it’s unfair if not detrimental to the mindset of both players. 

Yes, pressure and competition are good, however the goalkeeper role is arguably one position you want clear stability in considering the importance of the position. Despite all this, Henderson’s mentality and ability are there for all to see, there is little doubt that the 24-year-old will be playing in some of the biggest matches in the future of his career. 

The only question that is unanswered is whether that will be for United or somebody else, both seemingly equal possible outcomes at this moment in time.

Written by Sam Wilson

Has Manchester United’s goalkeeper dilemma of last season already fixed itself?

In the 2020/21 season a debate broke out in the footballing world over Manchester United’s goalkeeping position, and who should be the number one for the club moving forwards into the new season. David De Gea had solidified himself as a club legend, but his form had been consistently dropping since the World Cup of 2018. 

This meant that when Academy graduate goalkeeper Dean Henderson impressed in two consecutive loan moves to Sheffield United and was then called into the squad for the 2020/21 season, fans were anxious to find out whether this season would prove to be De Gea’s last as United number one. 

The 2020/21 season began with business as usual, De Gea was United’s goalkeeper for league games and Champions League games, while Henderson was between the sticks for FA Cup games and Carabao Cup games. Before the turn of the year De Gea played 13 Premier League games, keeping only four clean sheets

During this same period of time, Henderson played three Carabao Cup games, keeping clean sheets in all three, importantly two of these clean sheets came against Premier League opposition Brighton and Everton. During this period Henderson also played three Premier League games due to a minor injury to De Gea, while he kept a clean sheet in none, United did win all three of these games.   

Heading into the new year, De Gea maintained his spot as number one and had a better record, playing 14 games and keeping six clean sheets before needing to leave the country to be with his Wife for the birth of their first child, as was reported by the club

During this period, before the 3 March, Henderson played three games in the FA Cup keeping two clean sheets, with those clean sheets coming against Watford and West Ham. He also played one more game in the Carabao Cup against Manchester City, which United lost 2-0, and played two games in the Europa League against Real Sociedad, keeping a clean sheet in both legs.

Henderson’s chance came in the League when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer allowed David De Gea to be with his wife in Spain for the birth of his child, due to covid regulations, this meant that De Gea would be unavailable for an unknown period of time, Solskjaer stated‘Dean Henderson came in and played well and he’s ready. I’ll give David the time he needs of course’

The manager recognising that Henderson is ‘ready’ shows that during the season Henderson had done enough in the games he was given to show he is of Premier League standard. In the 10 games Henderson went on to play in the league, the youngster kept four clean sheets

When De Gea returned he was second choice, playing mostly in the Europa League which culminated with the Spaniard failing to save a penalty in the deciding penalty shootout in the final against Villareal, and ultimately missing the penalty that gave Villareal the victory, as was reported by BBC Sport. This showing in a final, which was United’s best hope of winning silverware since 2017, felt at the time like the last nail in the coffin of De Gea’s time as United’s number one.

However, after a disappointing Summer for Both Henderson and De Gea, with Henderson having to drop out of the England Squad for the Euros and De Gea being on the bench for all of Spain games, Henderson’s luck got worse, with the 24-year-old contracting Long Covid during the summer, keeping him out of action for the start of United’s season, as was reported by The Sunday Times

This gave De Gea a clear run of games in the League to prove once more why he was the four-time winner of the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award, as reported by Sky Sports News, and that he could find that form again. 

It is safe to say De Gea has had a great start to the season, showing form many fans haven’t seen in the keeper since the 2017/18 season. He made crucial saves in the win against Wolves and the draw against Southampton. His biggest redemption, however, came in the last minute of United’s 2-1 victory over West Ham in the league, with West Ham being awarded a penalty in the last minute to bring the game level, De Gea saved the penalty from Mark Noble

This moment was important for many reasons, but perhaps most crucially it felt like redemption for the penalty shoot-out in the Europa League Final, it was also the first time De Gea had saved a penalty in the League Since October of 2014.

With De Gea looking to be finding his old form and Henderson still unavailable for selection, it seems as though the debates of last season over who should be United’s number one have now been put to bed, with De Gea comfortably secure in that spot, at least for the foreseeable. 

Of course, this is just bad luck for Henderson, with the situation being taken out of his hands due to illness, but he has shown enough to United fans for them to know that when his time comes again, he can be the man to take over from the legendary David De Gea. 

Written by Jennifer McCord

David De Gea: A Necessary Resurgence?

Manchester United have had a fairly solid start to the league campaign this season, earning four victories and one draw in the opening five fixtures, the only defeat coming most recently against Aston Villa.

It’s fair to say a large amount of the strong early league form can be attributed to United’s long-term number one goalkeeper David De Gea, who seems to have had an upturn in form since his disappointing performance in the Europa League Final

The Spaniards missed kick in the Europa League Final penalty shootout almost looked to be a final nail in the coffin for De Gea, as his form had been declining for a few seasons while a new hungry challenger in the form of Dean Henderson had been emerging. However, it seems that the Goalkeeper has dusted himself off and returned much sharper so far in the new season.

De Gea, who was signed from Atletico Madrid for £18.9 million back in 2011, has made 448 appearances for the Red Devils since his difficult start to life at United all those years ago. When De Gea arrived, there were questions about his stature and whether he was able to deal with the intensity and physicality of the Premier League. It seemed these fears were coming to fruition, as the Spaniard struggled on multiple instances in his United careers infancy. 

Despite this, Sir Alex Ferguson’s faith was repaid as De Gea has gone on to become one of the most legendary Goalkeepers to ever play for United. His incredible performances across seasons past have been vital to so many United games, earning him the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award a record breaking four times.

Across all of his time at United, De Gea’s loyalty has never really come into question, aside from a feverish Real Madrid interest in the player, De Gea has remained committed both off and on the pitch.

All of this being said, one may struggle to see why De Gea wouldn’t automatically remain number one this season and for the foreseeable future, however performances from the Goalkeeper have not quite reached his high standards of years gone by. De Gea has struggled from 2018 onwards to be consistently top quality, having let in a few clangers and looking vulnerable from set pieces at times. 

In spite of this, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stuck by the shot stopper, frequently still citing him as the best goalkeeper in the world still. Under Solskjaer, De Gea has had moments of inspired form though, especially in a dominant Goalkeeping display against Tottenham in a 1-0 victory back in 2019 at Wembley, proving he can still reach the level he once was.

Over the course of the last five years De Gea has fought off challenges from the likes of Sergio Romero and Dean Henderson to retain his number one status, although it seemed that as of late the declining overall form and emergence of talented Henderson may finally jeopardise that. Henderson is a tremendous prospect at United, still only 24 years of age and possessing bags of ambition, he looks set to be the future of United’s goal. 

However, how fast that future arrives is up in the air, De Gea looks to have dramatically upped his game this season as a response to the challenging Henderson. The Englishmen has shone when replacing De Gea, so it seemed as though he may have started the season as number one, but a bout of Covid left the door open for the veteran Spaniard to retain his place with impressive performances so far this season.

De Gea has had some wonderful distribution at times this season and was the hero against Wolves with an incredible double save to ensure United left with all three points. Additionally, the stoppage time save of Mark Noble’s penalty against West Ham looks to have cemented De Gea’s return to form and established position as number one. 

Whether this form continues is up for debate, but the player has talked about taking more responsibility and becoming a leader of the team. Solskjaer was impressed with De Gea’s drive to return to United training early during the summer, and it looks like that determination and work may have paid off. 

It’s going to be a long season for United, with many games and several competitions to play in, so naturally rotation with Henderson will happen. One thing that is clear though is De Gea’s ambition to remain as number one, and it seems he may have had a necessary resurgence to not just achieve this, but United’s overall growing ambition to win major trophies.

Written by Sam Wilson

David de Gea and Dean Henderson – Summer 2021 plans?

The 2021 summer transfer window will be a crucial one for Manchester United for several reasons. One of the notable decisions to be made this summer is a decision regarding the goalkeeping situation. It was a strange decision to bring back Dean Henderson after his loan had expired at Sheffield United, as it was a rare case of two top goalkeepers being in the same squad at the same time. In the early parts of the season, the competition seemed to be helping Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea, as his form improved drastically when compared to the two seasons prior.

As of April 2nd, long-time United servant David de Gea has only registered one error leading to a goal in the Premier League this season, an improvement on seven errors leading to goals in the 2018/19 and the 2019/20 seasons. A large section of the United fanbase has grown impatient with de Gea since the 2018 World Cup when he made notable errors on the big stage. Dean Henderson on the other hand has had a meteoric rise, displaying impressive performances in his two seasons at Bramall Lane, becoming a fan favourite for the Sheffield United faithful.

Henderson is a great shot-stopper, and a very confident character, believing he has what it takes to make it to the very top with both Manchester United and the England national team. Henderson has been utilized mostly as a second-choice goalkeeper this season, racking up appearances across the cup competitions. Recently, with the birth of David de Gea’s first child, Henderson has been given a run of games to fill in for the absent de Gea. During the run of games Henderson has been given, the outlook from the fanbase has been mostly positive, as his commanding character has been impressive when in goal.

Though he has been questioned at times, for example, AC Milan’s late equalizer at Old Trafford in the Europa League, and his overall performance against Leicester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals, where he was expected to do better on several instances. Despite his errors, which are only natural as he is a young goalkeeper, Henderson has produced outstanding performances in a United shirt, most notably in the 2-0 Manchester Derby win, and also in United’s 1-0 round of 16 triumph in the Europa League versus AC Milan, where he produced a world-class save from a Zlatan Ibrahimovic header. 

At the moment, it is difficult to predict the future of Manchester United’s goalkeepers. As many fans do not believe in de Gea’s ability anymore, an option is to sell the Spaniard. This may be a strenuous option, as de Gea reportedly earns a wage in excess of 350 thousand pounds per week. With his evident decline and his monstrous wages, it is difficult to imagine a club coming in to sign him, and if United choose to do so, it will be a poor decision from an economic standpoint. A more sensible choice of action regarding this situation would be to sell Dean Henderson, with the inclusion of a buy-back clause in the deal.

This choice would benefit the club in many forms, mainly letting Henderson develop further, getting a good amount of game time, and being polished for the day that comes when de Gea inevitably leaves the club. David de Gea is far from finished at the top level and could provide another couple of years of solid goalkeeping at United, as evidence from the 2020-21 season suggests. Ultimately, it is United’s call on what to do with these fantastic goalkeepers, with many other unmentioned options that could either benefit the club or be a detriment to the club.

Written by Ashkan Shomeil

Blessed with two top Goalkeepers who should Manchester United go with next season? The master, David De Gea, or the apprentice, Dean Henderson?

Whilst the last few summers at Manchester United have been dominated by transfer speculation after transfer speculation after transfer speculation, the summer of 2020 had an interesting sub-plot. 

The return of Dean Henderson, on loan at Sheffield United last season, had many questioning whether David De Gea’s first team place was under serious threat, realistically, for the first time in his United career. After a few errors last season, there were a few murmurs that Sergio Romero should be given a chance. Whilst De Gea was struggling at Old Trafford, Dean Henderson was flourishing in his first Premier League season. After helping Sheffield United to promotion the season earlier, a second season on loan was agreed and it could arguably be seen as one of the transfers of the season. 

Sheffield United shocked everyone, finishing ninth and earning plaudits from everyone. Henderson himself, would earn his first England cap off the back of 13 clean sheets for the newly promoted side. As the season drew to a close, the obvious question arose. Who would be United’s number in the next season? Would it be Henderson or De Gea? As we have seen, so far it has been De Gea. United manager, Ole Gunner Solskjaer, has huge trust in his number one. He stood by him last season and De Gea hasn’t really let him down this season. Henderson has played a few cup games and the odd league game, but as we enter 2021, should Henderson be number one next season?

It is hard to use this season’s performances when Henderson has made far fewer appearances. In the games he has played he’s done what he’s needed to bar one big error. Ironically, it was against his former side, Sheffield United. Dallying on the ball, he was robbed of the ball in his own six-yard box costing his side the opening goal, however United would go onto win the game. He would play in the Carabao Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City as well as the most recent FA Cup win against Watford.

He also made his Champions League debut in the shocking 2-1 defeat in Istanbul. It is odd to think that whilst defeat in that game would be a catalyst for United exiting the competition, it will probably lead to more game time for Henderson, via the Europa League. Last season, Romero played most of the Europe League games and it would be a surprise if Henderson wasn’t given those game too, but as alluded too earlier you can’t really compare De Gea and Henderson based on this season.

So, what can we judge them on? As Henderson has only played one full season in the Premier League, last season would be a good place. Both goalkeepers managed 13 clean sheets each, although Henderson (33), conceded three less than De Gea. Expected goals conceded stats also show in Henderson’s favour. He conceded 5.2 goals less than he should have, De Gea only 2.2. The same stats show that Henderson was better at defending crosses then his teammate and that he made more passes then the Spaniard, showing that he is more comfortable playing out from the back. United, especially this season, have shown weaknesses defending crosses and the stats show that Henderson might be better dealing with them. Of course, not all crosses are defended by the goalkeeper, but that added protection is never a bad thing. 

What can’t be looked past is the position that Sheffield United now find themselves. Since losing Henderson, the Blades have nose-dived. Bottom of the table. Just two points in 17 games. 29 goals conceded. That’s just four goals less then Henderson conceded in 36 games last season. Of course, other issues have to be taken into consideration. They’ve only scored 8. They lost Jack Egan and have suffered plenty of other injuries throughout the season. John Lundstrum refusing to sign a new contract won’t have helped either, but losing Henderson was a huge blow.

Of course, if you’re judging Henderson’s impact since he’s left, you have to judge De Gea since Henderson has come in. United are sitting second in the league, level on points with Liverpool, with a game in hand. If Henderson has directly affected Sheffield United’s fortunes, then should we be looking at De Gea’s improved performances the same? Possibly, of course United’s good form began when Bruno Fernandes arrived last January, and it has continued since. De Gea has only kept four clean sheets in 14 games, so it’s hard to put the good form down to just his performances. 

Realistically, it’s going to be hard for Henderson to usurp De Gea for the number one jersey. As we entered this season, many believed that De Gea was a couple of big mistakes away from losing his place. We haven’t seen said mistakes. That is probably because Henderson is keeping him on his toes. United will have been delighted to have tied Henderson down on a long-term contract. It means they have time. It would be a surprise that he was still number two by the time that came to an end.

Most believe that Henderson is the future, however, he may have to be patient with cup games for the time being. It’s hard to drop your number one for the last ten years when you’re sitting joint top with a game in hand. However, the stats show that when Henderson does get his chance over a period of games, he’s unlikely to let anyone down. 

Written by Huw Rawlings

Dean Henderson will do whatever it takes to be Manchester United number one

Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson seems to be excited at the prospect of taking on David De Gea to become the clubs number one goalkeeper, according to the agent of the player. The 23-year-old has been on loan for every season so far at United playing in the National League, League Two, League One, the Championship and the Premier League, rising up a league every season – spending the last two at Sheffield United, earning a promotion to the Premier League and almost reaching Europe.

His performances for the Blades earned him an England call-up and has seen him involved with the squad during the UEFA Nations League matches against Iceland and Denmark, despite not playing any minutes of football in the two matches which saw England earn four points, beating Iceland 1-0 and drawing 0-0 with Denmark. Henderson was subject to lots of transfer speculation this summer, signing a new five-year contract at the club, with another year which could be added.

Henderson’s agent, David Lee, spoke to Sports Mole, regarding the player taking on De Gea, saying:

“I don’t think they’re offering him a five-year deal without thinking that he can.

“Obviously you’ve got a world-class goalkeeper as number one for Manchester United. He’s made a few mistakes, let’s be fair, but he’s still a top, top goalkeeper, still a world-class goalkeeper.

“Maybe Henderson coming in might make De Gea raise his game and there are two ways to look at it for Man United, but he’s got the potential to be Man United goalkeeper for sure.

“He’s another player who believes he should be playing for Man United right now, so it’s not going to faze him, he’ll just rise to that.

“There are some players that, when you think of them playing for a big club you worry about them – can they take that pressure every week? But Dean would have no problem with that, he’s a confident boy.

“He’s ready, he wants to push people. I’m sure they’re good friends in training and have a good working relationship but Dean will be focused on getting that number one spot that’s for sure and he’ll do whatever it takes to get it.”

During the 2019/20 season, Henderson made 40 appearances at the Blades, making 36 appearances in the Premier League, missing both matches against United as he was not eligible to play against how parent club. The 23-year-old conceded 37 goals, keeping 14 clean sheets – 13 of those in the Premier League. This showed his progress since leaving United, which he has done every season as he is yet to make is debut for the club, which might happen in the coming weeks with United set to face either Reading or Luton Town in the third round of the Carabao Cup.

De Gea has not been in the best of form over the past few years which has led to many speculation whether this was the end of the Spaniard’s time at the top in England. The 29-year-old made a total of 43 appearances for United in the 2019/20 season, conceding 44 goals and keeping 15 clean sheets – 13 of which were in the Premier League matching Henderson’s achievement in his debut season playing in England’s top flight. This challenge for the number one shirt could see both Henderson and De Gea raise their game with De Gea fighting to keep his place at the club.

Henderson will be subjected to much more scrutiny at United and every mistake made will be amplified by the media, which was not something that happened during his time at the Blades, so the England international will need to be ready for that. The fact that he is ready to challenge De Gea for the number one shirt at his age is enviable and he will face a fight to break into the first team regularly, taking the shot away from De Gea, which could follow with the decline of the Spaniard after nearly a decade at the Old Trafford club. It might not happen like that but it would be great for Henderson, and quite possibly England, if it did.

Written by John Walker

Rio Ferdinand gives opinion on David De Gea’s future after Dean Henderson’s return

Former Manchester United central defender Rio Ferdinand has backed David de Gea to rediscover his form at the Old Trafford club. Over the past year or so, there has been plenty of criticism of the Spanish number one with the player making a number of bad errors which has cost United dearly. With Dean Henderson coming back to the club this summer, having spent two seasons on loan at Sheffield United, a club where he helped win promotion to the Premier League and have a good debut season in the top flight of English football, has not helped De Gea’s case.

Ferdinand played alongside De Gea from 2011, when the player signed from Atletico Madrid, until he left United in the summer of 2014 for Queens Park Rangers before retiring at the end of the 2014/15 season, feels confident that De Gea can find his feet and regain his form once again. De Gea was once the player that kept United together post-Sir Alex Ferguson, winning the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award in four seasons out of five, which shows you how good the player can be. Speaking to TeamTALK and reported by The Mirror, Ferdinand said:

“De Gea has the ability to get back to where he was. He’s shown over the years that he is a class act. He can now have a break for a few weeks and come back with his focus renewed.

“He has the mentality to come back and reach his levels again. We’ve seen time and again how good he can be. I think he can still be a big player for United, but he has a point to prove again now. He has had tough times before and has come back.

“He’s a great goalkeeper and over the years he has been fantastic for United. He was player of the year four out of six years or whatever it was. But if you are not producing the goods over an extended period of time you have to be told and there has to be someone waiting in the wings to come in.”

Henderson’s return to Old Trafford in certain to cause a few headaches with the player having no intention of playing second fiddle to De Gea at the Theatre of Dreams but probably understanding that he will need to take on the Spaniard to win the number one shirt at the club, not just demand it and get what he wants. I don’t think Henderson is like that though and a lot of the speculation regarding the player seems to be based from what the media publish, which is not always fact, just mere speculation which might actually mean nothing.

The 23-year-old has been linked to Chelsea but is reportedly close to signing a new contract at United. During the past week, it has been suggested that Henderson would be loaned out this coming season, and that he would remain at United. It has also been stated that Sergio Romero has been linked to a number of clubs, including Chelsea and Leeds United, so there is clearly something happening somewhere at the club, which could pave the way for Henderson to take on De Gea this season in the battle to become the clubs next first choice goalkeeper.

It could certainly be an interesting season at United, especially with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggesting that he does not need three goalkeepers at the club, which would become four with Henderson returning this summer, meaning that two goalkeepers will be surplus to requirements with them likely to be both Romero and Lee Grant. United went through a period whereby they did not have a great goalkeeper from the time that Peter Schmeichel left the club after helping the club win the treble to the arrival of Edwin van der Sar, with De Gea replacing the latter at the club. If both De Gea and Henderson could work together and share the position, Henderson could be set up for the future at the club, with United and Solskjaer having De Gea to fall back on should Henderson falter at any stage.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United offer 23-year-old goalkeeper £100,000 per week contract

Manchester United are suggested to be ready to start the battle fettle number one shirt at the Old Trafford club, say ‘exclusive’ reports by The Sun. However, earlier on Tuesday, the same newspaper reported that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had made a decision to allow Dean Henderson leave the club on loan for the 2020/21 season. Not it is suggested that the club will be rewarding the 23-year-old with a new £100,000 per week contract and allow him to battle for the number one shirt next season.

It was suggested that Solskjaer would give David De Gea another chance to keep hims place as the number one goalkeeper at the club, however, it might seem that his chance could be a full on battle with the rookie goalkeeper who has spent the last two seasons at Sheffield United and is not full of confidence and ready for the challenge. It is suggested that his new contract will be a four-year contract but it does not suggest whether it is four straight years or a four-year extension to his current contract.

Henderson is contracted by the Old Trafford club until the summer of 2022, so if the four-year contract is to be added to the current contract, it would see him remain as a United player until the summer of 2026 which could give the player more confidence. However it could just be that the current contract is overwritten with this new contract, meaning the player will remain at the club for two more years compared to his last contract. It could be good news for United if this is report is true.

It would mean that United would have four experienced goalkeepers at the club next season with De Gea, Henderson, Sergio Romero and Lee Grant. During the last two seasons, Henderson has been on loan with Sheffield United, helping the club win promotion to the Premier League from the Championship and keeping their position as a top flight club this season but the club seem to have been getting ready for a future without Henderson being part of their squad.

It was suggested that Solskjaer would allow Henderson to spend the 2020/21 season away from United on loan but that, providing he did not sign a new contract, could give the player the feeling that he was not wanted at United. It will be a big decision to let the player take over from De Gea at the club, but he needs to be allowed to show his competitive streak which might bring out the best of both De Gea and Henderson and even raise the var for Romero too. I don’t think Grant will play much football with United and in all honesty, I don’t think he expected to either.

Chelsea have been linked to Henderson this summer but it would seem that United would not sell ampler who could become the number one goalkeeper for both club and country in the near future, to a club looking to strengthen so they can assemble a squad capable of winning the Premier League and return to the pinnacle of football by lifting the UEFA Champions League, which is the same things that United will be seeking to do under Solskjaer. Henderson’s future should be at United and he should be given the chance to shine at the club – it might all work out well after all.

Written by John Walker

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sticks by David De Gea with Dean Henderson being loaned out

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reportedly decided that Dean Henderson, 23, will be loaned out from the club for the 2020/21 season instead of being brought into the first team squad to take on David De Gea, who will keep his position as the number one goalkeeper at the club. Some might look at this and see that Solskjaer and United could be making a massive mistake as De Gea has not been at the top of his game for quite a while, which could be more of a problem moving forward.

However, similar could be said regarding Henderson, who has not yet slyer for United’s first team and has spent time on loan over the past five seasons, rising a league level each time and spending the last two seasons on loan with Sheffield United, winning promotion from the Championship and excelling in his first season in the Premier League. That does not mean that the player will end up being a success at United as he would be put under the microscope even more by the media and pundits.

Solskjaer will need to ensure that he has made the right decision and it might result in Henderson rejecting a new contract at the club. During the 2019/20 season, Henderson made a total of 40 appearances for the Blades, playing 36 times in the Premier League and four more times in the Emirates FA Cup. He conceded 37 goals; 33 in the Premier League and the remainder in the FA Cup, also keeping 14 clean sheets, 13 of which were in the Premier League. It was an impressive season from the rookie goalkeeper.

The Mirror has reported that Solskjaer wants to give De Gea another chance to find his form at the club, as looking back during his time at United, especially in the first five seasons after Sir Alex Ferguson retired, De Gea has been a player that has kept United moving at times, which is also why he has won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year four times in five seasons; winning three of them in a row. Sergio Romero will continue to be the second choice goalkeeper at the club.

De Gea made a total of 43 appearances for United this season, playing all 38 Premier League matches plus one in the FA Cup, two in the Carabao Cup and two in the UEFA Europa League. He conceded 44 goals in total, 36 in the Premier League (conceding 54 in the league the previous season) with three conceded in each of the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup, conceding twice in the Europa League. De Gea also kept 15 clean sheets; 13 in the league and one in each of the Europa League and the Carabao Cup.

Henderson has been linked with Chelsea this summer with Frank Lampard’s side looking to purchase the player. This caused rumours that the 23-year-old would demand to be the number one goalkeeper at United for the 2020/21 season or he would leave the club. However, his current contract does not expire until the summer of 2022, meaning United will retain him for two more years. If a contract extension is not reached this summer, it might well see him not end up playing for United at all, which would be a shame.

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW