Old Trafford goalkeeping legend Peter Schmeichel says Dean Henderson isn’t ready yet to replace David De Gea as Manchester United’s No 1.
Spanish stopper De Gea was voted United’s Player of the Year four times in five seasons from 2014 to 2018 and deemed irreplaceable, but he’s made a series of mistakes in the last couple of campaigns, prompting talk that United need to freshen things up between the posts.
And while De Gea’s star has waned, Henderson’s has risen. The youngster joined Manchester United as a youth player in 2011 and has gained valuable experience with a series of loan moves to Stockport, Grimsby, Shrewsbury and Sheffield United.
And it’s at the latter where he’s really taken the eye this season, helping the Blades become the surprise package of the Premier League by conceding just 25 goals – second only to runaway leaders Liverpool.
The Steel City outfit are seventh and just two points behind Manchester United but Schmeichel believes it’s “far too early” for Henderson to oust De Gea.
“Would anyone seriously consider not having David De Gea in goal and put Dean Henderson in now?” Schmeichel said on Instagram Live.
“There’s no doubt about Henderson’s potential, but he’s played one season at a club who has had an unbelievable run in the Premier League.
“Henderson will need to show another season, like he’s just come through, and then another one, and another one, in order to convince everyone that he is the right guy.
“There’s a really big difference between being the No.1 at Bramall Lane and being the No.1 at Old Trafford, a really big difference. Even just being a player at those two clubs.”
Schmeichel says he’s seen this scenario plenty of times before when a highly-touted player hasn’t been able to make the big step up.
“I have seen a lot of guys come into Old Trafford with great reputations, goalscorers, and they haven’t been able to do what they promised to do, with performances and talent.
“That’s simply because the pressures at Old Trafford are different, just different, you know.”
To highlight the point, Schmeichel picked out the goal Henderson conceded in the narrow 1-0 defeat to Liverpool when he allowed Gini Wijnaldum’s shot to squirm between his legs.
“Just as an example, if Henderson makes a mistake – and I can only remember one he made against Liverpool – it’s, ‘Oh yeah, but he’s young and talented and blah blah blah’, because he plays for Sheffield United,” Schmeichel added.
“If he makes that mistake at Old Trafford, for Manchester United, then it’s headlines and it’s all week until he plays the next game, where they question his ability to be the No.1.
“The pressures, the outside pressures, are so different. If you make a mistake playing for Sheffield United, well, fine, it’s what happens, you’re not expected to win every game.
“But you are when you’re playing for the bigger clubs. So, let’s see how he develops and keep an eye on him. But it’s far too early.
“So the question: De Gea or Henderson? There’s really only one answer to that.”