Manchester United star Dean Henderson was reportedly furious with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to start David De Gea in Wednesday night’s Europa League final defeat to Villarreal. The Red Devils entered the showdown looking to win their first major trophy in four years. But that didn’t happen, with Unai Emery’s side instead reigning supreme in Gdansk.
It was a chastening night for Manchester United, whose wait for a first trophy under Solskjaer will now go on.
Villarreal took the lead through Gerard Moreno in the 29th minute, with the striker getting the better of Victor Lindelof before poking the ball past David De Gea.
United were able to force extra time through Edinson Cavani, who capitalised on some poor defending to level the scores.
After extra time, it was then left to the dreaded penalty shootout to decide the outcome of the competition.
And it was Villarreal who ended up claiming victory, with De Gea fluffing his lines to hand the La Liga side the prize.
Some felt United should have replaced the veteran with Henderson for the shootout specifically, especially given the fact he’s saved six spot-kicks since De Gea last stopped one way back in 2016.
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And, now, the Manchester Evening News claim the England international was ‘furious’ after learning he’d been benched for the showdown.
Henderson had become a regular in Solskjaer’s XI up until the 4-2 defeat to Liverpool at Old Trafford.
But he’s recently found himself back behind De Gea in the pecking order, much to his dismay.
Henderson was forced to watch on helplessly from the sidelines as United and Villarreal contested a memorable shootout, with 21 straight successful penalties.
De Gea, meanwhile, was consoled by his team-mates on the pitch having done all he could to deliver his side the trophy.
Henderson may now look to leave United behind for a new challenge, with the likes of Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain previously named as admirers.
Being dropped for the biggest match of their season seems to suggest he’s not No 1 at Old Trafford – which wasn’t what he signed up for upon returning from a loan spell with Sheffield United back in the summer.
And, as an ambitious goalkeeper, Henderson won’t want to play second fiddle to De Gea for the long term.
Solskjaer explained his decision not to replace De Gea when speaking after the defeat on Wednesday night, insisting a late substitute never crossed his mind.
“You go through every scenario, of course,” Solskjaer explained.
“And it had crossed my mind in the build-up to the game but we were confident in David and prepared.
“Anything can happen in a penalty shootout. I stuck with the ‘keeper who played all of the game.
“I’ve got to say the penalty shootout was high quality, but we didn’t do enough in the 120 minutes to score more goals and that’s the disappointing bit.
“We had pressure, we had moments where we felt if we can just kick on a little bit now we can get a goal. But we just couldn’t.”
Solskjaer also admitted United players were dejected in the dressing room following the chastening defeat.
“It’s quiet, a disappointed dressing room. That’s football for you,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s decided on one kick – and that’s the difference between winning and losing.
“We have to learn from that one, not savour this feeling but taste this feeling and make sure we don’t get it again.
“We didn’t turn up. We didn’t play as well as we know we can. We started alright and they got the goal, their only shot on target. We were disappointed to concede a goal on a set play.
“We pushed, we pressed, we got a goal. After we scored we didn’t control the game or dominate as we wanted.
“They made it hard for us, they closed spaces. We had the majority of possession. They defended well. We didn’t create enough big chances.
“Now is not the time to point the finger at what I’d have done differently. But when you come out without the trophy you haven’t done everything right.
“We’re getting closer and closer and better. We were one kick away from a trophy and a good night.
“We have to have the desire to come back next year and improve. The only way to get the margins your side is to work harder and better.”