Erik ten Hag took right decision to sell Dean Henderson despite his great start to life at Crystal Palace – Man United News And Transfer News

Manchester United made the unusual decision to revamp their whole goalkeeping department in the summer by releasing David de Gea and selling Dean Henderson.

The club opted to replace the two with Andre Onana and Altay Bayindir, who has yet to play a game for United.

There has been much wagging of tongues about the rights and wrongs of releasing legendary keeper De Gea but there has not been much mainstream media fuss on the sale of the 26-year-old Englishman.

It must be remembered that in the spring of 2021, Dean Henderson had replaced the Spaniard as United’s first choice keeper under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign and had seemingly won out in his long-held ambition to be the Red Devils’ number one. However, a bout of long COVID in the summer but paid to this dream. De Gea started the season in blinding form and the now Crystal Palace keeper never got a look in again.

He spent the 2022-23 season on loan at Nottingham Forest before a serious injury and then joined the Eagles this summer for a reported £20m.

Despite starting the season with an injury, the Englishman has been in fine form for Palace. In fact, he “has saved 2.00 more goals than expected through four Premier League starts”. Furthermore, “statistically, he’s been the best shot-stopper per 90 across Europe this season (0.50 goals prevented per 90)”.

This begs the question, did United give up too quickly on their academy goalkeeper just to sign an expensive flop in Onana?

The first thing to suggest is six games is such a small sample size and whilst it is an impressive start, a more realistic representation of the keeper’s abilities would be seen at the end of the season.

This is especially important in the context of a keeper who has only really had one season of first team consistent football that was not blighted by injury or being second choice. This was his 2019/2020 season with Sheffield United in the Premier League, where he was exceptional.

Now in his mid-twenties, he will need to show what he is about for significantly longer before proving anyone wrong.

Furthermore, much has been written already about the Cameroonian’s controversial start to life as a Red Devil. What is clear is that the keeper was brought in by Erik ten Hag to make United more comfortable in possession and to create more chances. This has backfired spectacularly.

United have only scored 22 times in 20 games this season in the league and have definitely gone backwards in this regard. The club rarely makes use of Onana’s ball playing skills and he can be often seen hoofing the ball up field. In fact, the Red Devils only have the ninth best possession statistics this year in the Premier League and keep the ball just 52.75% of the time.

However, it is also true that key injuries to Lisandro Martinez, Kobbie Mainoo, Christian Eriksen and Mason Mount, have robbed Ten Hag of some key contributors to a more possession-based system. Perhaps, with the return of all of these players shortly, fans will see the Dutchman’s masterplan in action.

In addition, Henderson was never seen as particularly good on the ball and if Ten Hag finally moves to a possession based side, he would not have fit in here either, certainly significantly less so than the African keeper.

Another factor is that you could argue that the academy graduate is a better shot stopper than the Cameroon international. Onana has faced a huge amount of criticism for his poor attempts at dealing with free kicks and shots in general this campaign. The Peoples Person relayed a piece in December that highlighted the flaws of the keeper’s unusual parrying technique which has been causing “havoc” in United’s defence.

The Whitehaven-born Palace keeper is excelling this year and was praised for his shot-stopping ability at United but it must also be stated that the keeper made some high profile mistakes when he was briefly number one at Old Trafford. It also only seems fair to state that Henderson also played behind closed doors with no public to put him off due to the COVID time period he was playing in.

The most obvious example was the Englishman’s strange positioning for Mo Salah’s goal versus United at Old Trafford in a 2-4 loss in May 2021.

The action led to SkySports pundit, Roy Keane, claiming the keeper “looks so small” in the goal and “my worry is his presence”.

All in all, despite the keeper’s great start to the season, it was not the wrong decision to sell him. He was one of the few players who could generate a good sale price and he never really took his opportunities when handed them at the club. Moreover someone, be that Ten Hag or another coach, will eventually make United a top possession team and with Onana, that job is a lot easier than with Henderson.

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