David de Gea’s time as Manchester United number one seems to be over. However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision for the Europa League final could mean the official change of the guard.
For much of his time as a manager, Solskjaer has chosen the Spaniard in the biggest games.
De Gea missed all but one of the Europa League games last season before returning to the semi-finals that United lost.
He also missed five FA Cup wins before starting the semi-final defeat to Chelsea.
Similarly, United’s highest paid player didn’t appear in the EFL Cup until there were four teams left, and he lost again.
(Photo by Oli Scarff – Pool / Getty Images)
This time things are different. Dean Henderson was a regular in the major national clashes, while De Gea had to make do with European games.
But that could also change in the final.
As in the past, United has a choice of sticking to the man who brought them there or changing him.
When United last won the Europa League, Sergio Romero kept his place. This time around, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Henderson got to join his more experienced teammate.
After all, United are looking to win their first trophy under Solskjaer and picking their strongest team is essential.
De Gea’s performance on Thursday night was brilliant. But it shouldn’t paper over the cracks. He still conceded three goals and made too many mistakes this season.
Apprentice usurps master
The second leg semi-finals may have thrown a wrench into work. After all, there will be some United fans who believe De Gea has done enough to keep his place.
But Solskjaer will be desperate to win a trophy and everything else will be a major climax.
Henderson is United’s best goalkeeper and if he starts later this month it could be the final nail in the proverbial coffin for De Gea.
The Spaniard’s shadow at Old Trafford used to be large over every other stopper. Now that shadow belongs to Henderson.
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