Gary Neville admits he is “a little bit worried” about the goalkeeping situation at Man Utd with David de Gea and Dean Henderson going head-to-head for the number one spot.
Henderson, included in Gareth Southgate’s senior England squad for next month’s Nations League games, signed a new deal at Man Utd on Thursday after spending the last two seasons on loan at Sheffield United.
Henderson made 86 appearances in total for the Blades after joining them in 2018, helping them to promotion to the Premier League and then a ninth-placed finish in the top flight last season.
The 23-year-old confirmed earlier this month that he would not be staying for a further season with the Blades, who have signed goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale from Bournemouth.
And now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will give him the chance next season to compete with De Gea to become undisputed number one.
“It’s an intriguing one and I’m a little bit worried about it,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“It looks brilliant on the face of it. You’ve got a goalkeeper in David de Gea, who has been world-class, absolutely no doubt about it. He’s been Manchester United’s player of the season in four out of the past six seasons, but just over the past 12 to 18 months he’s definitely dipped below the levels he has achieved previously.
“You’ve then got Dean Henderson who has had a wonderful season and wants the England number one spot. He wants to be at major tournaments, he wants to play for Manchester United and he isn’t going to wait around.
“I always like a situation where you’ve got an established number one, who is fantastic, and you’ve got a very good number two, who knows his position.
“De Gea makes a mistake in week two, you know what the media are going to say, is this the moment that Henderson comes in? Ole is going to have that question hanging over him all the time, potentially, during the season. It’s something that is going to provide a challenge for him to be able to manage.
“The easiest thing in the world would be that they both play lots of games. Henderson plays in the cups and De Gea plays in the league. They’ve got an agreement of how it’s going to work this season and then there’s a transition in a year’s time. That might be something that could happen, but it doesn’t feel like that’s going to happen because De Gea will want to be number one, he’ll want to be the undisputed number one and Henderson will want his spot.
“It’s the one position where you can’t have uncertainty. You have to be definite with it because it really unnerves the rest of the team, the defence and the stadium. I believe it creates anxiety when the goalkeeper isn’t settled.
“De Gea definitely starts as number one because there was a point where Ole could’ve dropped him towards the end of the season. However, he stuck with him at that point and we are only around four weeks later.
“I still think Henderson’s got a lot to prove. Playing in goal for Sheffield United is a lot different than standing out there in that vacuous, empty, massive space which is the goal mouth at Old Trafford, when the team are up at the other end of the pitch most of the time attacking and then all of sudden you’ve got your first interaction with the game after 15 minutes and your concentration is tested like never before.
“I think it’s a very different expectation. It’s not a given that he’s going to go into the team at Manchester United and be everything that everyone thinks he’s going to be. He hasn’t got the experience yet to handle Old Trafford or to show us that he can handle Old Trafford. We hope he can show the potential he’s got but that’s the hardest position on a football field by a long way.
“It’s the biggest pressure on a football field and I think the Manchester United goalkeeping position, I would argue, is one of the most pressurised positions in English football.”