‘Man Utd have put De Gea in an awkward position’ – Parker hopes Henderson returned for right reasons

David de Gea Manchester United 2020-21
The former Red Devils full-back believes an ambitious keeper has headed back to Old Trafford for sporting reasons, with a No.1 battle now being fought

Manchester United have put David de Gea in an “awkward” position by bringing Dean Henderson back into the fold, says Paul Parker, with every goalkeeping performance for the Red Devils now set to be dissected in minute detail.

The two men competing for a regular starting berth at Old Trafford have both seen competitive game time this season.

De Gea opened the new Premier League campaign as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s No.1, and was beaten on three occasions as Crystal Palace collected an impressive 3-1 win on their travels.

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Henderson then slotted into the United side for a Carabao Cup clash with Luton, with a clean sheet collected in a less than convincing 3-0 win over the Hatters.

Debate as to who should be first choice appears set to rage from this point, with many having already called for De Gea to be nudged down the pecking order after seeing errors creep back into his game.

That would be harsh on a man with four Player of the Year awards to his name in Manchester, with Parker among those questioning why United have put themselves in this position and whether sporting or financial ambition has led to a battle between two international-calibre goalkeepers.

The former Red Devils defender told Eurosport: “What I would like to think is that Henderson has looked at De Gea, a vastly experienced goalkeeper, and he has thought to himself that he can compete and eventually beat him out as the club’s first-choice. I hope that was his motivating factor, not the huge new contract he got, otherwise he should have gone back on loan to Sheffield United.

“If he is up for the challenge though, and I have no reason to think otherwise, then he deserves a lot of credit. It’s easy these days for players to be content, to stay comfortable. It would have been very easy for him to go back to Sheffield United, where he knows everyone and is the undisputed first-choice, but fair play to him for testing himself.

“I don’t think you can give as much credit to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or Manchester United as a whole. They’ve put themselves, and De Gea, in a very awkward situation. We all know De Gea is going to come back into the starting line-up for Saturday’s game against Brighton but what happens then if he makes an error? Every goal they concede now is going to be dissected more than before.

“Even if United win you know Solskjaer is going to be under pressure from fans and the media to make a change. It’s tough for goalkeepers, you don’t get to make as many mistakes as outfield players, and now De Gea is going to be under the microscope more than ever.”

Henderson has made no secret of the fact that he wants to nail down a role for United, but has also aired his admiration for De Gea and accepts that competition for places in 2020-21 is going to be fierce.