Tag Archives: Dean Henderson

My 26-man England Euro 2020 squad

Today is the day that Gareth Southgate makes half the nation absolutely ecstatic and the other half furious as he names his England squad for this summer’s European Championships.

UEFA agreed to allow an extra three places in the squad for managers to add following a full campaign of a hectic schedule owing to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last 18 months or so.

That should make it a little bit easier to select a squad but there will still be some big names who miss out. While Southgate will name a provisional squad today, I wanted to see just how difficult it is to do and how different people will react, so this is my 26-man England squad for Euro 2020.

GOALKEEPERS

Jordan Pickford: The Everton stopper’s place as number one for the national team had come under doubt this season but Southgate has stuck by him for the most part and he will 100% be in the squad.

Dean Henderson: He’s always had great ability and has come through the youth ranks with England. Now as Manchester United’s number one, he has earned his place in the senior England team too.

Sam Johnstone: The third spot was sure to be Nick Pope’s, but the Burnley keeper needs knee surgery and is almost certain to be ruled out of the tournament. That means West Brom keeper Johnstone will get the chance to be part of the squad as the third choice.


DEFENDERS

Kyle Walker: Quite comfortably the best performing English right-back this season, Walker won the Premier League and is in the Champions League with Manchester City and deserves his spot. He also offers some flexibility if needed, having played as a centre-back at the 2018 World Cup too.

Reece James: A young right-back, James’ season started impeccably and while he didn’t keep that level throughout the season he wasn’t bad. Good going forward and excellent in a one-on-one situation with a great delivery, he deserves a chance.

Harry Maguire of England celebrates victory with team mate Luke Shaw following the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifying match between Albania and...

Trent Alexander-Arnold: The fact his spot in the squad is so in question is bonkers to me. He had a really tough first half of the season and was rightly left out of the last England squad, but since then he has been back to his brilliant best. He’s improved defensively and has an X-factor when going forward that should make him a shoe-in.

Ben Chilwell: Southgate’s first choice left-back for the most part has had a good debut campaign with Chelsea this season and could top it off by winning the Champions League. He’s decent at both ends of the pitch and this is one of the positions where the choices are pretty clear.

Luke Shaw: Quite comfortably the best left-back in the country this season, Shaw has seen an incredible resurgence in his career this season. He’s been fantastic going forward, with a career high of assists this season but also solid defensively and can even fill in as a third centre-back in a back three too so he’s in.

Harry Maguire: England’s best centre-back and a leader at the back, he’s had a very good season for Manchester United. Aerially he is dominant and while he has got a lack of pace, he knows how to play without it for the most part and shines for Southgate so will start so long as he recovers from his ankle injury.

John Stones: Another player who has seen a huge resurgence in their career this season, Man City have a lot to thank Stones for. While Ruben Dias picked up much of the plaudits (and rightly so), Stones shone next to him and his passing ability from the back should see him as a starter alongside Maguire with fitness permitting.

Fikayo Tomori of Ac Milan gestures during the Serie A match between Ac Milan and Cagliari Calcio. The match ends in a draw 0-0.

Ezri Konsa: While I don’t expect him to go, Konsa is more than deserving of a spot in the squad after the season he has had. Alongside Tyrone Mings, he has shown a fantastic ability in all aspects of defending as well as playing out from the back and in my eyes has outshone his centre-back partner. He has great pace to cover round and is good on the ball to build from the back too, meaning he’d fit into the squad brilliantly.

Fikayo Tomori: For sure a wildcard pick, but Tomori’s form since his January loan move to AC Milan can’t be ignored. He was brilliant in Serie A and the Europa League and caught the eye of everyone who paid any sort of attention. That means if Southgate was doing his job properly he’d have spotted him too, and he deserves an inclusion based on form and ability over Wolves captain Conor Coady.


MIDFIELDERS

Jordan Henderson: Arguably the biggest character in the camp, Henderson is an automatic pick if he’s fit. Great energy, leadership, solid defensively and a decent passing range too, he starts never mind gets included in the squad.

Declan Rice: Potentially the most important piece of the jigsaw in Southgate’s midfield, the West Ham man’s defensive qualities are something that only he brings to the squad. A fantastic tackler with great awareness, he will be key if England get into the latter stages to take on the better teams.

Jude Bellingham: Not many people will have had him down as getting into this squad at the start of the season, but the 17-year-old has been sensational for Borussia Dortmund and earned himself senior minutes earlier in this campaign. He has the ability to fulfil every midfield role and that fearlessness he brings to his game could be huge.

Kalvin Phillips: A fantastic ball playing defensive midfielder, Phillips has been a big part of Southgate’s plans in squads over the last year and he deserves his place in the side as the insurance policy in the centre.

Mason Mount: A real breakthrough campaign this season for Mount, who made himself indispensable for Chelsea and forced his way into the England setup too. Whether it be deeper or slightly more advanced, Mount is almost certain to start and will be included.

Phil Foden: England’s best young player since Wayne Rooney, he was key to Manchester City winning the league and making the Champions League final and is pushing for a starting spot never mind a place in the squad.

Bukayo Saka: The Arsenal man was one of very few bright sparks in a shocking season for the Gunners and his versatility could be absolutely vital for the squad. Able to play as a full-back, wing-back, winger or even central midfielder, he should find that gets him into the squad above anything else.


FORWARDS

Jack Grealish: One of the stand-out performers in the Premier League this season prior to his shin injury, Grealish more than deserves his place in the squad. Brilliant ball retention and manipulation, as well as a ball carrier, eye for a pass and top performances for Villa, he has to be in.

Harry Kane celebrates with Jadon Sancho of England during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier between England and Montenegro at Wembley Stadium on November...

Jadon Sancho: Strangely enough there are squads that don’t have Sancho involved and that just makes zero sense to me. A dazzling winger with pace, agility, a brilliant change of direction, goals and assists, he’s performed brilliantly for Dortmund after a slow start and deserves his spot.

Raheem Sterling: After Harry Kane, Sterling is probably the first attacker on the squad list for Southgate and he’s one of them for me too. While his season for Man City was somewhat underwhelming in comparison to previous campaigns, he has goals, assists and brilliant wing play and can play on either side. His quality is high and he’s a must-pick.

Marcus Rashford: The best season of his club career was slowed somewhat by injuries towards the end, but 20+ goals and 15+ assists in all competitions make him a sure-fire pick. He has that X-factor in one on one situations, has brilliant pace and skill, can play across the entire front three and is a good impact sub if he doesn’t start too.

Harry Kane: Well, duh. England’s best player by a distance, Kane is in the squad and I reckon he’ll play every minute of the tournament too.

Mason Greenwood of Manchester United celebrates scoring a goal to make the score 1-0 with Marcus Rashford during the Premier League match between...

Dominic Calvert-Lewin: Since Kane will likely play in every game and play most minutes, the secondary striker role is one that likely won’t be used much. Despite that, you need someone who is a presence on the pitch if they are needed and can score a variety of different goals, so the Everton man is the best pick.

Mason Greenwood: A wildcard pick again, but it’s rare that as a manager you have so much quality to choose from and have to leave someone out. But Greenwood’s quality with both feet, whether through the middle or out wide means he absolutely has to be in. There’s nobody I’d rather a chance fell to when I needed a goal outside of Kane and that’s enough to sway me.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s lack of in-game management costs Man United again

Manchester United conceded a late set-piece goal once again to gift AC Milan an away goal in their Europa League last 16 game as the sides drew 1-1 at Old Trafford.

United overcame a tough start thanks to a questionable VAR decision when Franck Kessie’s fine strike was ruled out for handball, despite replays seemingly showing the ball never struck his arm. A shocking first half performance from the home side came to an end and saw Anthony Martial substituted with an injury, allowing Amad Diallo to come on at half-time.

It took less than five minutes for Amad to make his mark, as he broke the deadlock with a beautiful looping header over Gianluigi Donnarumma after an excellent pass from Bruno Fernandes. The Reds barely threatened after that though as Milan bossed the midfield and eventually found an equaliser in stoppage time thanks to a Simon Kjaer header from a corner, which Dean Henderson should have done better with.

It would be wrong to suggest that Milan didn’t deserve a draw at the very least from the game, but when you consider that United were ahead in the 92nd minute it automatically tells you that it was their game to win.

After brining on Amad at half-time, Ole made a further three changes in the game. All at the same time, with around 20 minutes to go and with the Serie A side in the ascendancy he opted to take off Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and replace them with Fred, Brandon Williams and Luke Shaw.

That instantly handed the initiative to Milan, who were now essentially invited into United’s final third to sustain pressure on their goal. While they didn’t create many clear-cut chances up to the goal, it was the intent of the substitutions that changed the game even moreso into the Italian’s favour.

You’d have thought that Solskjaer would have learnt from past mistakes, too. Against Everton recently he brought on Axel Tuanzebe to try and see out the game with the Toffees in the ascendancy and they scored in the 95th minute from a free-kick being swung into the box. Going back further the same thing happened against Southampton at Old Trafford last season, with the Reds dropping points thanks to an injury time Michael Obafemi goal from a corner.

Rather than trying to get some control of the game to see it out, he chose to just flood the pitch with defensive players. That meant that even when they did get on the ball they had no outlet and the ball just ended up going straight back to Milan for their attacking to start again.

Manchester United v A.C. Milan - UEFA Europa League Round Of 16 Leg One : News Photo

It says something that with one set of substitutions, Solskjaer managed to go from 1-0 up with a balanced 4231 formation to a 5-3-2 formation with three left-backs on the pitch and his starting defensive midfielder playing as the most advanced midfielder now, with the two players who’d started their evenings on the right wing now playing as strikers.

These decisions change the entire mentality of the team on the pitch, almost admitting to them that they’re going to have to dig in for this result now rather than continue to play as they were.

To be clear too, there is nothing wrong per-say with making defensive substitutions so long as you don’t outright change the mentality of the team. Bringing on Fred for Bruno alone would have done the same job he was intending to do but still would have had three attacking players and a back-four. Different personnel, but mostly the same shape – just a bit of control and sturdiness added to a side that were holding on to a short lead.

As United continue to concede these late goals, especially from set-pieces, and the manager continues to make odd in-game decisions that negatively effect the outcome of games, they cannot progress to the level they want to at the business end of the season.

A game that was entirely theirs to lose has now been thrown away and it’s advantage Milan heading to the San Siro for the second leg next week.

It’s time for Dean Henderson’s chance as Manchester United number one

As Manchester United dropped further behind in the title race following another poor home result, it has resurrected a discussion from the start of the season.

The Reds gave up a 2-0 and 3-1 lead at Old Trafford to draw with Everton over the weekend, with errors from David De Gea and Harry Maguire called out as the reasons for the result.

Abdoulaye Doucoure’s goal came as Dominic Calvert-Lewin raced clear of Maguire and then poked an effort across goal. Instead of catching the ball, De Gea slapped the ball straight into the path of the former Watford man and momentum swung in the Toffees favour.

Then in the 95th minute, a free-kick was floated in by Lucas Digne and Maguire decided to play everyone onside. The ball bounced through to Calvert-Lewin and with De Gea glued to his line he was able to poke the ball into the Old Trafford net.

The Spaniard conceded three goals as Everton had just three shots on target, to follow on from his error against Sheffield United in the recent defeat too.

De Gea’s season started relatively well, despite some dodgy results for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men. Most of the goals conceded didn’t really give him much of a chance of saving them, but some games caused some concern.

The Spaniard has slowly been declining for the past three years from his insanely high level before that. His reflexes are not what they once were, his command of his box hasn’t improved since he first signed for the club and his distribution seems to make those around him panic more than it settles them.

While Dean Henderson has had his own problems in games this season, his potential is clear to see. His performances last season for Sheffield United played a huge part in their fantastic debut season in the Premier League, as you can see from their league standing currently without him.

The truth is that nobody knows right now if Henderson is good enough to be United’s long-term number one. We don’t even know if he is definitely better than De Gea. But the facts are that we do know that De Gea is no longer good enough to be first choice at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer may need to make a decision on using Henderson between now and the end of the campaign to decipher whether or not he is ready going forward. He signed a new deal in the summer to compete, so let him compete. Depending on his performances, a new goalkeeper could be needed in the summer.

With AC Milan’s young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma’s contract expiring at the end of the season, the Reds could do a lot worse than keeping an eye on his situation and looking to bring him in on a free transfer should it be determined an upgrade is required.

We saw Henderson perform to a consistently high standard for Sheffield United, a more consistent run in the team with better defenders in a team where he should theoretically have less to do will likely lead to better performances.

He deserves his chance of a run in the team now, with De Gea’s form proving costly to the teams ambitions of a title run. He’s not the sole reason and nobody is stating he is, but the fact is that right now the easiest change to a struggling defence is to change the goalkeeper because the gap in quality and reliability between them isn’t that big.

Henderson’s chance to shine and stake his claim is now, it’s just whether Solskjaer will make the big call or not.

What Is The Strongest England Lineup?

Another international break, another dodgy team selection from Gareth Southgate, another not-so great performance from England as they were beaten 2-0 by Belgium in Brussels.

First half strikes from Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens put the number one ranked team in the world into a comfortable lead as they cruised to victory with England struggling once again overall to turn in the type of performance that should be expected with the squad they have at their disposal.

Southgate once again opted to start the game with a back five and two holding midfielders, meaning the team struggled to get hold of the game in attacking positions until Belgium allowed them to do so.

As criticism came in post-game about Southgate’s team selection the obvious options the squad has are coming to light more and more. So what is his best XI right now?

Goalkeeper and Defenders

England v Republic of Ireland - International Friendly : News Photo

Dean Henderson (GK): The Manchester United stopper isn’t getting regular first-team football right now, but he is the best goalkeeper they have. He’s much better and more reliable than Jordan Pickford and his distribution is a big edge he has over Nick Pope. He shouldn’t be punished for not starting over David De Gea yet.

Reece James (RB): The Chelsea youngster has forced his way into the England squad following great performances for Frank Lampard’s side this season. He’s excellent on the ball, good going forward and defensively and is versatile enough to play in different positions too if needed. He fits the system that little bit better than Trent Alexander-Arnold and the other right-back options for me.

Harry Maguire (CB): If you know me, you know I’m not his biggest fan. England however are bereft of quality options at the back so experience is needed. Maguire is good in the air, decent on the ball and organises relatively well. He’s arguably the best of a bad bunch, so should start.

Joe Gomez (CB): His place in the side is up for grabs right now after a knee injury ruled him out for the next few months but when fit he should be an automatic starter. The 23 year old is quick, good on the ball, strong in the air and has all the attributes needed to help form a partnership with Maguire at the back.

Ben Chilwell (LB): Much like at centre back, England aren’t loaded with quality options at left-back right now. The Chelsea man‘s greatest competition is arguably Bukayo Saka, a natural winger, or Luke Shaw who hasn’t been in an England squad since 2018. He’s got good attributes but isn’t quite at the top level with any of them. Still, good enough to be starting for England.

Midfielders

England v Republic of Ireland - International Friendly : News Photo

Jordan Henderson (DM): He’s arguably at his best in a box-to-box role but Henderson has shown with Liverpool that he is capable of holding the fort defensively too. With his experience and leadership qualities as well as his ability to read the game means he can do that job for the national team too. Henderson can win the ball back and pass it off to the better, more technically tidy players in the team and let them focus on attacking.

Phil Foden (CM): Foden hasn’t broken into the England squad on a permanent basis just yet, but on ability he should be one of the first names on the team sheet. Foden is knocking on the door to be a regular in the Man City tea and his creativity is exactly what England are missing in midfield. He adds technical quality, goals, a killer pass and a little bit of x-factor to the centre of the pitch and would be a shining light.

Jack Grealish (CM): While his best form has come out on the left wing, Grealish is most dangerous when drifting into central positions. His dribbling and willingness to always show for the ball and create is much needed if England are to dominate games in the way they want to. He showed in the defeat to Belgium that he is more than ready for this level of football and he is one of England’s best players. He must start.

Attackers

England v Bulgaria - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier : News Photo

Raheem Sterling (RW): Sterling has spent the last 18 months playing primarily as a left-winger for Man City but prior to that he was just as effective from the right hand side. His pace, directness, ability to beat a defender one on one and eye for goal make him a world class attacker and one that must start for England.

Marcus Rashford (LW): The Manchester United poster boy has established himself as an England regular since making his debut as a striker back in 2016. Much like Sterling, he has untold amounts of ability out wide. Pace, strength, vision, passing ability, ball-striking technique and skill mean he is the best option out on the left right now.

Harry Kane (ST): England’s best player. A world class striker and the captain of the side, Kane has proven time and time again that when he plays he scores goals. He’s showed for Tottenham recently that having lethal runners either side of him brings out a new side to his game too so the potential of that front three is frightening, especially with Foden and Grealish supplying and creating in behind them too.

England Squad Announced – Best XI?

Another international break is due to be upon us and Gareth Southgate has named his England squad for the upcoming games against Wales, Belgium and Denmark.

Harry Maguire has been recalled in defence following his withdrawal from the squad after being arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer in Greece last time around, while Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka receives his first call-up to the senior side listed as a defender.

Harvey Barnes and Dominic Calvert-Lewin both receive their first call-ups to Southgate’s side too, but Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden have been left out as punishment for breaking quarantining rules last time out in Iceland.

So with a 30 man squad named, what is the strongest XI that Southgate could put out? I’ve picked my team out of this crop of players and break down the strengths & weaknesses and how they’d cope against the better sides in the world.

GOALKEEPER – DEAN HENDERSON

It’s a tough call between Manchester United’s No.2 and Burnley’s No.1 for this spot but ultimately I’ve gone with who will undoubtedly be the better goalkeeper going forward. Jordan Pickford the current No.1 for Southgate but he constantly lets himself down with poor decisions and bad performances. Nick Pope would equally be deserving of the role having really become a very good goalkeeper over the last 18 months, but Henderson edges it. At 23 years old, Hendo has good feet, is vocal and has shown his reliability when it comes to shot-stopping on several occasions. He’d be my first choice goalkeeper.

RIGHT BACK – TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

Denmark v England - UEFA Nations League : News Photo

He picks himself. At just 21 years old, the Liverpool academy graduate has won everything there is to win at club level as a key component of Jurgen Klopp’s side. Defensively he has his frailties, but going forward he is truly a generational talent from full-back and has earned his spot. England’s depth at right-back is so crazy that the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Reece James and Tariq Lamptey haven’t made the squad this time around but I believe Trent is the better option ahead of those three, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier anyway at the moment and should be first choice.

LEFT BACK – BEN CHILWELL

Now I’m not the biggest fan of Chilwell as a player, but he’s comfortably England’s best left back right now. The Chelsea man is back to fitness and has played well for the Blues when called upon so far but will now look to push on to get back to the level of consistency he had at Leicester. His only real competition for the spot in this squad would be Bukayo Saka, who having not been in a squad before now and being a natural attacking midfielder, wouldn’t be the best option ahead of him as it stands. Another option could be Kieran Trippier who played there during the last international break, but as a natural right back Chilwell definitely gets the nod over him too.

CENTRE BACKS – JOE GOMEZ & TYRONE MINGS

Now this will be controversial since Harry Maguire is almost guaranteed a spot in the side by Southgate, but he doesn’t start for me. Joe Gomez and Tyrone Mings as a partnership has everything you’d want from a centre back pairing in modern football. Both are lightning quick, both are very comfortable on the ball, Mings is more vocal and dominant aerially while Gomez is used to sweeping up in behind and covering behind a more dominant centre-back. In all honesty there isn’t much difference in terms of ability between Mings, Maguire and Dier in defence but the two latter options are more likely to struggle if they’re put in a position where they become isolated in a one-on-one situation. With the way England look to set up the team, this pairing would allow a higher line and more attacking influence from midfield to get the best players even closer to goal.

CENTRE MIDFIELD – JORDAN HENDERSON & KALVIN PHILLIPS

Another controversial shout as the inexperienced Kalvin Phillips gets the nod for me over Declan Rice in the heart of the midfield alongside Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. Henderson is an automatic choice with his experience and strengths. Defensively he is very good. He covers ground well, has a good range of pass to his game and offers leadership and a winning mentality to a fairly young squad. Phillips gets in for me over Rice simply for his ability on the ball. Defensively, Rice is probably a bit better but England want to be a side that dominates possession and controls games. A central midfield pairing of Henderson and Rice doesn’t do that. Phillips’ passing range and ability on the ball mean England can control games better but they don’t lose balance because he is also a very good defensive midfielder. With more Premier League experience I’m sure it will become a more accepted choice but I’d make the step early and do it now.

RIGHT WINGER – JADON SANCHO

The hottest topic of the summer transfer window will join up with the England squad next week, but whether he’ll be a Borussia Dortmund or Manchester United player is still up in the air. What isn’t up for debate though is just how good he is on the wing. Dribbling, pace, skill, ability to go both ways, assists, goals and excellent decision making put Sancho among the best in the world in his position and the fact that he’s a starting international player at the age of 20 shows you just how talented he is. He must start.

Netherlands v England - UEFA Nations League Semi-Final : News Photo

LEFT WINGER – MARCUS RASHFORD

A breakthrough campaign as a regular starter for Manchester United saw Marcus Rashford notch the best season of his professional career so far. Since coming back from a serious back injury, he’s not been quite as explosive but has still provided goals and assists to show his quality. In a one-on-one situation out wide he often has the beating of the defender and his passing range has improved over the last 12 months. He links up well with fellow attackers in tight situations too and having played as a striker for much of his senior career too he knows where the back of the net is. Another one who must start.

NUMBER 10 – RAHEEM STERLING

The reason the other two wingers must start out wide is because Raheem Sterling should start through the middle. He is the complete modern forward and has the ability to go left, right or as the most advanced central player if necessary and that’s why he should play in this role. His late runs into the box will see him continue to score goals like he does at club level, while also allowing him to link with the other attackers more frequently. His ability to drive past players also means he wouldn’t mind coming deep to collect the ball if necessary and make things happen to open games up too. For me, he is England’s best player and must be put in a position to get the absolute best out of him.

STRIKER – HARRY KANE

The man. Harry Kane is on course to break all the goalscoring records in England, including Wayne Rooney’s 53 international goals. As the number 9 he has always shown how reliable he is in front of goal but has also shown that when he has willing runners in behind around him, he is capable of picking passes out too. As captain he is guaranteed to start anyway but he’s there on merit too as one of the best strikers in world football.

Central midfield continues to be a problem for England going forward but there are pieces of a really top quality side coming through here. There are options all over the pitch and Southgate has an abundance of talent to pick from against all different types of opposition.

Wins over Wales, Belgium and Denmark over the next international break will affirm Southgate’s ambitions of leading England to glory at the European Championships next summer but it’ll be more about the performances his side can put together that will tell you where they are in the running.

Dean Henderson Signs New Manchester United Deal To Compete With David De Gea

Dean Henderson has signed a new five-year contract with Manchester United, with the option of a further year to stay at the club and compete with David De Gea as the No.1 goalkeeper at the club.

Henderson has spent the last two seasons on loan at Sheffield United, helping them get promotion to the Premier League before keeping 13 clean sheets in the top division last year as they secured a top half finish at the first attempt.

There was interest from Chelsea and Sheffield United about a potential permanent deal, but the Carrington graduate had made it clear that he wants to be the No.1 at Manchester United and refused to leave on a permanent deal.

The new deal keeps him at Old Trafford until 2025, with an option for an extra year essentially making it a six-year contract for the 23 year old. Reports suggest the deal is worth around £120,000 per-week which would put him among the highest paid goalkeepers in the league.

Despite that, Henderson will be competing with David De Gea for the starting spot in Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side next season if he ends up staying at the club beyond the transfer window. According the Manchester Evening News the club and player have different ideas on the coming season, with the club believing a loan would be the best option while Henderson himself wants to stay and play.

With David De Gea still having three years to run on his £275,000 per-week deal, he is expected to start the season as the No.1 choice but if Henderson remains at the club then he will be facing real competition for the jersey for the first time in his United career.

It’s believed that United would like to loan Henderson out to a club playing European football, potentially abroad, so that he can continue to play regularly and then potentially replace De Gea next year. However having been called up to the England squad, he believes that he is ready now and is happy to provide competition for places.

It seems like a win-win situation at the moment for Manchester United. As it stands, De Gea is the better goalkeeper despite his recent errors and dips in form. He is more experienced and a better shot stopper, plus he is used to all the limelight and criticism that comes with the role. While Henderson can’t get that without being in that position, it’s something that doesn’t need to be thrust upon him right now on top of the attention that would come with displacing a club legend like De Gea.

A loan would suit all parties, as Henderson would play and likely keep his role in the England side with Euro 2020 coming up next summer while United know they have him tied down for the foreseeable future. He could then return next summer with a year of European experience added to his career and really compete while United consider whether De Gea is really done at this level or whether it was just a blip.

Staying shows real character and gives De Gea a kick up the backside. Solskjær will know he has a top goalkeeper waiting in the wings to replace De Gea for any mistakes that occur and it will only boost the level at the club.

It’s a win-win for all parties no matter what happens from here on out but the only thing guaranteed is that Dean Henderson is a Red for a while longer yet.

Premier League Team of the Season

As the craziest Premier League season of all-time ends, all eyes go immediately towards the new season. People begin to talk about new transfers, new clubs, new managers and predictions for the new campaign.

Before I start doing that though, I want to give my thoughts on the best XI in the Premier League last season.

GOALKEEPER
Dean Henderson

A phenomenal debut season in the league has seen the Manchester United loanee break into the England squad and now be spoken about as a potential starter at Old Trafford next season ahead of David De Gea. With 13 clean sheets in 36 games, Henderson helped push Sheffield United towards a European place and although they missed out in the end it was Henderson’s performances that stood out more than others.

Honourable mentions: Allison Becker, Nick Pope, Ederson.

RIGHT BACK
Trent Alexander-Arnold

Self explanatory pick this one to be honest. Trent has continued to excel as the best right-back in the league and is now among the best in the world. While he still learning and improving in a defensive aspect, going forward he is one of the best there is and that helped propel Liverpool to a record breaking run that saw them lift their first Premier League title. With 13 assists in the league, he broke his own record for assists by a defender and had more than anyone else bar Kevin De Bruyne. A truly remarkable season by a truly remarkable player, he’s my pick for young player of the season.

Honourable mentions: Ricardo Pereira, Matt Doherty, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

CENTRE BACKS
Virgil Van Dijk & Joe Gomez

A pairing in real life and a pairing in my team of the year, Liverpool dominate the defensive side of this team. Van Dijk has continued to show the world that he is the best in the world in his position right now, while Gomez has shown why Jurgen Klopp has so much faith in him. Gomez is undoubtedly better when he has Van Dijk alongside him but on his own, he has shown good reading of the game and positioning while also becoming more vocal as the season progressed. Together they have the perfect blend of strength, speed, aerial dominance and ability on the ball to keep any attack quiet and they are a huge reason as to why Liverpool had the best defensive record in the league this season.

Honourable mentions: Caglar Soyunçu, Willy Boly, Aymeric Laporte

LEFT BACK
Andrew Robertson

It’s a full house for the Liverpool back-four as Robertson completes the defence. The Scotland captain is often outshone by teammate Alexander-Arnold as a creative full-back, but he himself managed to get 12 assists this season. His surging runs on the overlap are a big reason why Sadio Mane is so successful at cutting inside in this team and while his form certainly dropped off post-lockdown, the position Liverpool were in was clearly a big reason as to why so I won’t hold it against him. He’s among the best full-backs in the world currently and will continue to perform at a high level under Klopp’s rock ‘n’ roll football style.

Honourable mentions: Enda Stevens, Jonny

Liverpool players Andy Robertson, Joe Gomez, Roberto Firmino ...

CENTRE MIDFIELD
Kevin De Bruyne & Mateo Kovacic

I want to have some form of balance to this side and this is the best performing duo that gives me that. Mateo Kovacic was arguably Chelsea’s best player this season, really coming into his own as a lynchpin in Frank Lampard’s midfield. His fantastic dribbling and passing means he can break lines in multiple ways but he was also excellent defensively. Kevin De Bruyne’s inclusion is self-explanatory. 13 goals and 20 assists from central midfield is a stunning return and he has cemented himself as the best player in the league for me. His creativity, pace, power and ball striking is at a world class level and he would be an asset to any team in world football. He’s impossible to leave out and in his current form Man City will be looking to him to lead their charge to potentially lift the UEFA Champions League.

Honourable mentions: Joao Moutinho, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice

RIGHT WING
Mohammed Salah

Another stellar season in which Mo Salah dominated attacking charts and records for Liverpool. Just one goal away from a third consecutive 20+ goal season and he also hit double figures for assists this season. His electric pace, superb movement from the wing and ability to hold the ball up with his back to goal despite his smaller frame are all at a world class level. Regardless of aesthetics, Salah is among the best players in the world and without him Liverpool’s attack would drop a level.

Honourable mentions: Riyad Mahrez, Adama Traore

LEFT WING
Sadio Mane

Much like Salah, Mane is continuing to perform at a world class level in the Premier League. Another season where the Senegal international has notched double figures in goals and was also instrumental in creating. Mane’s goals won more points in this season’s Premier League than anyone else (21). His movement, touch and ability to beat a player one on one is among the greats in the game today and you’ll be hard fought to find a better left-winger for Klopp’s system. His willingness to defend too is a credit to his professionalism and makes him impossible to leave out. He was my contender for Player of the Year along with Kevin De Bruyne, although KDB pipped him towards the end in my opinion.

Honourable mentions: Marcus Rashford, Christian Pulisic

NUMBER 10
Raheem Sterling

Now Sterling’s inclusion will be controversial because he doesn’t play as a No.10 but there was no way I could leave him out. 20 goals in the league with no penalties is a personal best for the England man and his performances are a key reason as to why Man City fans didn’t panic when Sergio Aguero got injured and ruled out for the remainder of the Premier League season. He has mastered the run from outside to in for a back post tap-in but also has the ability to beat players one-on-one, play intricate passes between the lines and link-up with teammates in tight spaces. A truly top class player, Raheem Sterling was a player I simply couldn’t leave out of the side despite the qualities of rivals for this position.

Honourable mentions: Jack Grealish, Bruno Fernandes

STRIKER
Danny Ings

Another slightly controversial pick but Ings deserves recognition in my opinion. While Vardy won the golden boot, he went on a big barren run without a goal and it was ultimately his run of scoring in 9 games in a row earlier in the campaign that got him there. Ings was a consistent goal threat for Southampton this season, has stayed fit and is the reason they were able to turn their season around and end up finishing comfortably in mid-table. 22 league goals in a side that doesn’t create a lot of chances and were fighting for their lives is a mightily impressive return following his injury problems in recent years. His movement, link-up play and finishing with both feet was evident for all to see all season long and he deserves a place in the team of the season mainly due to his, lack of, supporting cast in comparison to his rivals.

Honourable mentions: Jamie Vardy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Anthony Martial

Do you agree with my team of the year? What would you change? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter at @TapInsTapOuts.

Manchester United’s Goalkeeper Dilemma

As the 2019/20 season begins to wind down following a long, tumultuous period, eyes are beginning to stray into the next campaign.

Chelsea have already signed Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech to boost their squad for the new season, Liverpool are reportedly plotting a move for Thiago Alcantara from Bayern, Manchester City have acknowledged that they need to spend to reinvigorate their squad and challenge Liverpool next year.

Manchester United have been linked with several players for the new season, with Jadon Sancho, Donny Van de Beek and Jude Bellingham among the names. But they’ve got internal decisions to make too.

The big one on everyone’s mind – does Dean Henderson make a return to Old Trafford and oust David De Gea as the No.1 goalkeeper?

De Gea has been United’s No.1 since he signed way back in the summer of 2011 from Atletico Madrid. After a bumpy start, the Spaniard has grown into the role and at one point in time was undoubtedly the best in the world. He won the Sir Matt Busby Award (Fan’s Player of the Year) a record four-times, including three in a row and also won the Player’s Player of the Year award three times. Had it not been for De Gea, the Red Devils’ fall from grace following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement would have been much, much worse.

Despite that though, he has struggled for the last 18 months. He’s made countless uncharacteristic errors and cost Manchester United points. Some fans would even go as far as to say that he’s the reason they didn’t get Top 4 last year. Even this year, according to the official Premier League website, De Gea has made 3 errors leading to goals – only Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka has made more. While it won’t count towards his numbers, his latest error against Tottenham arguably cost his side two points in the hunt for Top 4.

On the other hand, Dean Henderson has been flourishing for Sheffield United. In his second season-long loan at Bramall Lane, Henderson has turned in performance after performance as the Blades have shocked everyone and found themselves in a race for European places in their first season back in the Premier League.

Dean Henderson Signs a New Contract at Manchester United : News Photo
Dean Henderson signed a new contract with Man Utd before going out on loan to Sheffield United

Henderson has kept 11 clean sheets in the league this season, bettered only by Burnley’s Nick Pope and Alisson Becker of Liverpool. De Gea by comparison has kept 9.

Former goalkeeping-coach at Manchester United Eric Steele has spoken about the situation and offered some expert insight. He said:

I used to have a quote on all my walls, wherever I was coach. A printout, laminated – ‘When you do it right, no one remembers. When you do it wrong, no one forgets’. [It’s] goalkeeper law. Number one rule.

This is certainly something to consider when making this decision. Henderson is used to being under constant pressure and has still made mistakes, including against Liverpool earlier in the season and for England U21’s during the European Championships in 2019.

At 23 years old, Henderson is still developing and still has the best part of 10-12 years at the top of the game ahead of him. It’s come to light that he’s currently earning £70,000 p/w at Old Trafford after signing a new contract before going out on loan and United are not against re-entering talks over another new deal. He still has another two years on his contract, plus Manchester United have the option to extend that for a further year. There is absolutely no rush for United to rush him in while De Gea is still in his prime, despite the dip over the last 18 months.

If I were United, I’d let Henderson go on loan again next year. David De Gea has three years left on his current deal plus the option for the club to extend, so if they were to sell him the value would still be there. With the Spaniard aware he has real competition for his shirt, it may fire him up to perform as well as we all know he can. If it doesn’t, United can pull the trigger knowing that Henderson has had an extra year of regular first-team football and that De Gea’s form is no longer just a blip.