Henderson's time as Manchester United No 1 has finally come

Dean Henderson’s time as Manchester United No 1 appears to finally have come – the significance of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to choose him over David de Gea can’t be overstated

  • Dean Henderson always backed himself to become Manchester United’s No 1
  • Now with his selection over David de Gea versus Brighton, the time has come
  • At 24, Henderson is Man United’s future, whereas 30-year-old De Gea is not 

Soon on top. Dean Henderson has used the phrase in social media posts since making his professional debut for Grimsby on loan from Manchester United more than four years ago.

‘I’ve known I’ve been on a little journey and when I reach the top, I’ll let everyone know,’ he said in an interview last week.

Henderson has never been short of ambition or self-confidence. He always backed himself to become No 1 at United one day, it was just a matter of time.

Three weeks after his 24th birthday, Dean Henderson appears to be Manchester United’s No 1

Henderson was picked over David de Gea to start United’s Premier League tie against Brighton

Three weeks after his 24th birthday, it would appear as though that time has come.

Having given Henderson a run of six games while David de Gea had a break for the birth of his first child, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection for game No 7 was always going to be one of his most fascinating as United manager. The significance of his decision to choose Henderson over de Gea cannot be underestimated.

‘I’ve got two No 1’s, simple as,’ was Solskjaer’s curt response to questions before kick-off. That didn’t wash with Rio Ferdinand who is convinced his former team-mate will now look to leave Old Trafford after a decade at United.

‘I don’t think two No 1’s works,’ said Ferdinand. ‘You need the second keeper to understand he’ll be the back-up. David de Gea is not that guy.

‘If Dean Henderson finishes the season as the No 1, de Gea will be doing all he can to get out of Manchester United.’

Henderson is the future for Manchester United, while de Gea (pictured), now 30, is not

The situation has become an awkward one for Solskjaer ever since he brought the talented but impatient Henderson back from a loan spell at Sheffield United in October.

Last night’s win over Brighton was his 20th appearance of a season in which he has also made his senior England debut.

He is the future for United and de Gea, now 30, is not. Even if the Spain international wanted to stay, it wouldn’t be realistic to have him regularly sat on the bench when he is the club’s top earner on £375,000-a-week.

The issue was always going to be when and how Solskjaer changed the guard, and de Gea’s paternity leave last month was a convenient moment to give Henderson an extended run.

Henderson (right) could do little about Danny Welbeck’s (centre) opening goal for Brighton

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (right) said both Henderson and de Gea will play in the rest of the season

Sportsmail revealed that de Gea would rather have returned sooner but was told the decision had been made. It was apparent then that his grip on the No 1 spot was starting to slip, and Henderson has seized his opportunity.

There was little he could do about Danny Welbeck’s opening goal for Brighton last night after initially making an excellent save from the former United striker, although there was a worrying moment when he dropped the ball at a corner in the first half that could have proved costly.

It won’t affect the bigger picture. Solskjaer says both keepers will feature over the remainder of the season, and De Gea could play in Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final against Granada.

But it’s clear now more than ever which way the wind is blowing. 

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