DEAN HENDERSON gets another opportunity in goal for Manchester United in the FA Cup tomorrow.
If he takes it, in the fifth-round clash with West Ham, the clamour for him to keep his place for the league game against West Brom at the weekend will be deafening.
You have to go down to Leeds United in 11th to find a team with a worst goals-against record than United in the Premier League.
Even Burnley’s is better and they are one place above the drop.
David de Gea has started in all bar two of those league games.
Of course you can point at the fallibility in front of him but there is no doubt he is now costing United points not earning them, as used to be the case.
The 3-3 draw against Everton was the latest example as he palmed out Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s cross to the feet of Abdoulaye Doucoure for the first and failed to commit himself for the last-gasp equaliser.
Solskjaer is very loyal to De Gea but that loyalty is now starting to come at a cost.
He clearly has trust in Henderson or he would not have insisted on him returning from his loan spell at Sheffield United.
His absence has clearly been a blow to the rock-bottom Blades who have let in only two fewer goals at this stage of the season than the 39 they conceded in the whole of the last campaign to finish ninth.
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Henderson has played ten games for United this season, including the second-half of the 3-2 win at Southampton when he came on for the injured De Gea.
He has earned four clean sheets, five if you count that second-half at St. Mary’s when United came back from 2-0 down to win it.
Solskjaer said: “He’s played well when he’s got the chance. For me, he’s developed his game.
“I know he’s not played as many games as he would’ve done last season but you see every game when he plays and in training you see his improvement.
“He’s working hard on a couple of aspects that we’ve spoke about and I’ve been impressed with his attitude and work rate.”
But it’s games the 23-year-old wants not platitudes, as Solskjaer knows.
He said: “He’s not the most patient guy – he wants to play every game because he knows he will perform well, so long may it continue because he’s improved since he came here.”
Another player looking for a continued run of starts is Mason Greenwood, who has begun five of the last six games after a disappointing start to the season.
While he has only one league goal to his name this season and four in all competitions, Solskjaer saw signs against Everton that the 19-year-old striker is getting back to the form he showed in his breakthrough campaign last season.
Solskjaer said: “Mason was different class, the standout performer on the pitch, he just didn’t get the goal that his performance deserved.
“He’s improved and matured immensely. He’s working with some of the top forwards in the country, learning off them, and it’s exciting to see that he’s come over his blip and is playing really well.”
With the Premier League title starting to look like a distant dream now, the FA Cup takes on even greater significance for Solskjaer in his quest to get his first trophy as manager.
He guided United to three semi-finals last season but knows this new team needs silverware to take the next step.
He said: “That’s the ultimate challenge and test for a team – to go all the way.
“We’ve improved, we’ve had a plan in place and I think the team is getting better and better, last season we got to the semi-final, and it was disappointing to lose that one.
“You want to go all the way and lift a trophy. To win a final all the good teams have been beaten so that’s the next step for us in the development of this team.”
United are up against an in-form West Ham side under former Red Devils boss David Moyes, sat sixth in the Premier League and on a run of just one defeat in 11 in all competitions.
Solskjaer said: “They’ve improved a lot – David has got his team really well organised, as he always does and he’s got some very good players.”
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