Dean Henderson’s "b******s" promise and bench claim ramp up Solskjaer pressure

When Dean Henderson put pen-to-paper on a new contract, it was a sign of trust from Manchester United in their young goalkeeper.

It was also a sign of trust from Henderson towards the club, that rather than holding off and waiting to see how he was positioned at the start of the new season, he inked a new long-term deal.

After two outstanding campaigns on loan at Sheffield United, the 23-year-old is now determined to make his way at Old Trafford.

And after signing a deal until 2025, boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted to have tied down a man who harbours ambitions of becoming No.1 for club and country.

"Dean is a fantastic young keeper with the attitude and work-rate to keep improving every day,” said Solskjaer.

“We are in a strong position within the goalkeeping department and that gives us the competition for places that we are looking for in the squad.”

Those words came a week after Henderson had made up Solskjaer’s mind for him with regards a return to Bramall Lane for a third term, by publicly declaring he would not be going back – as his boss was keen to do.

Instead, he declared himself as looking forwards to “the next chapter!" But still, that next chapter remains largely unknown.

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Henderson, currently on senior international duty with England, has no interest in taking a back seat at United in 2020-21.

Solskjaer has backed David de Gea to the hilt in the past 18 months – notably after a number of high-profile errors – and has made clear that the Spaniard is still his No.1.

And De Gea, who signed a new long-term deal himself in 2019, has no intention of stepping aside.

As such, Henderson finds himself in a position where he must wait and see. But he has made clear once more that, despite his new deal, he has no interest in sitting on the sidelines.

“The aim is for me to play football next season and I don’t want to be not playing after last season,” Henderson said on Wednesday.

“Coming off a good season with momentum, it wouldn’t be clever for me to sit around and not play football.

"I don’t think that would help any parties at all.”

He added: “David de Gea has been a great goalkeeper first and foremost for many years. He’s been phenomenal. That’s something I aspire to be, to have a career like him at the club.

"So I’ll be going back in first day of the pre-season working my b******s off to get in that starting lineup because it’s something I’ve always wanted.

“I’m so close now so I’m not going to give up – I’m going to put the pressure on.

"I respect David, he’s been a phenomenal servant for the football club and if not one of the best in recent years. It’s down to me.

“I know what challenges are ahead. I’m well up for it.”

Henderson, who has yet to make a senior appearance for United but has spent time on loan not just with Sheffield United but also Stockport, Grimsby and Shrewsbury, continued: “I said at 23 I’ll go back [to United] and that’ll be my time. I remember sitting in the interview room at Grimsby when I said it.

"I knew what I needed to do, I knew what I needed to tick off before I got there. I’ve done that and hope I can get to where I want to be.

“You can get many things from training, and obviously learn off someone like David and the other goalkeepers and goalkeeper coaches, but I don’t think there’s any substitute for game time.

"I went out from Man United five years ago. I started at Stockport, Grimsby, Shrewsbury and then Sheffield, which shows how much I’ve learned out on my own.

“I’ve picked up experiences that happen in games because they’re situations you don’t really get in training.

“I’m under no illusions that I’m not going to improve just sat on the bench.

"I need that game time.”

Note the use of "need". It's not that he merely wants it. For Henderson, it's utterly imperative.

In the coming weeks, Solskjaer must play his hand. When United’s season gets up and running De Gea, barring injury, will get the nod.

But with the transfer window running until October 5, he must decide what to do with both Henderson and long-time No.2 Sergio Romero.

If Henderson doesn’t see minutes before September’s end, then he has made clear his desire to push for another temporary switch – which will see Romero remain in situ.

But with interest in the Argentine from other clubs, eyeing him as their No.1, Solskjaer must deal with his goalkeeping conundrum sooner rather than later.

Henderson continues to apply pressure and has no intention of selling himself short.

Will Dean Henderson become United's No.1? Have your say in the comments

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