Dean Henderson: The Leagues Best Backup Keeper?

After a terrific campaign with Sheffield United Dean Henderson returned to his parent club in hope of becoming the new number one for the Red Devils. Manchester United then decided to pen the goal keeper down to a long-term contract.This would see the Englishman remain at Old Trafford for the foreseeable future.


Henderson’s hopes of becoming United’s new number one were boosted by David De Gea’s abysmal form towards the end of last season. Last season Henderson pushed the Blades towards European contention. While, David De Gea cost United on many occasions with some un-characteristic poor displays. With the new season growing closer, it became clear that Henderson would not be sent out on loan again. Instead, United showed their intent by revealing that Englishman would be providing competition for the under-fire David De Gea.

Has The Young Keeper Impressed So Far?

Since the beginning of the 2020/21 season Dean Henderson has only featured in the starting line-up on a handful of occasions. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has preferred David De Gea in all Premier League and significant UEFA Champions League games. The Spaniard has responded well to the arrival of Henderson and has not put a foot wrong thus far. He has been in exceptional form, in which he has made some terrific saves that have been pivotal in United securing points. For example, De Gea made a brilliant save late on against Brighton from closer range. Furthermore, he made many fingertip saves against Paris St Germain. Despite this, Dean Henderson has consistently produced when he has featured in Solskjaer’s side.

Henderson made his first against Luton Town in the Carabao Cup. Unlike his time at Sheffield United, Henderson spent most of the game as a spectator. United held a narrow lead and Henderson was tested for the first time in a United jersey. Henderson produced a stunning save, in which he almost clawed the ball away from the goal line. Henderson’s superhuman save was overshadowed by United’s late goals, which made the game seem more comfortable than it was.

Yet again, Henderson missed out on a starting place in the Premier League. However he came back into the side for the game against Brighton in the Carabao Cup. Similarly, to the Luton game, Henderson had little to do for the majority of the game. But, the agile keeper produced another game winning save with the score still 1-0 to the Red Devils. This time to deny Trossard from a late equaliser. Henderson endured a much more miserable time in his first Champions League start against Istanbul Basaksehir. Moreover, the Englishman could do nothing to prevent United from falling to a 2-0 defeat to the Turkish side.

What Does the Future Hold For Dean Henderson?

It is guaranteed that Henderson will play in all domestic cup games. He will also feature in some of the group stage games in the UEFA Champions League. However, the Englishman will be hoping that he can feature in the Premier League. Significantly, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may favour De Gea over Henderson in the Premier League due to having doubts about Henderson being able to cope with a contrasting style of play. During his time at Sheffield United, Henderson was usually a very busy keeper in a counter-attacking team . Chris Wilder often demanded his keeper to be direct in distribution. Whereas, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer often demands his side to play out from the back. In addition to this, Manchester United are often expected to be the dominant side, in which De Gea is usually the less busy keeper.

Despite this, Henderson had proved already in his short United career that he is capable of making massive saves even if he is a spectator for the majority of the match. Clearly, Henderson will want to start more games to ensure position in Gareth Southgate’s England side. Henderson has already made his England debut, but will be ready to pounce at the opportunity to start more games at United.

Author: Rajan Sangha

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