Manchester United need to be forcing the issue when it comes to David de Gea and Dean Henderson, says Eric Steele, with the Red Devils urged to offer an out-of-sorts Spanish goalkeeper the competition for places that he will thrive on.
A change between the sticks at Old Trafford is being mooted on the back of some error-strewn displays from a normally reliable No.1.
Henderson is the logical choice to step in, with the 23-year-old Red Devils academy graduate having impressed across two productive loans spells at Sheffield United.
United will have the opportunity to welcome a highly-rated performer back into their ranks at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, and Steele feels they should do that regardless of who their first choice is for next season.
The club’s former goalkeeping coach told i: “Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants problems like this – strength in depth in every position. These are the headaches that should be in place at Manchester United.
“Should contracts permit, United need to say to Dean: ‘you are not going out on loan, you are here to compete with David’.
“He will value the experience at Sheffield United – he is better prepared now to take that challenge on. The season is a long one, 60 games if United get far in Europe, there is plenty of scope to use both.
“David understands the culture needed at United to get back winning things again, and Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] needs players like David, who understand what it means to be number one, and to keep winning.”
Opinion remains divided on whether or not De Gea should be stripped of a prominent post he has filled for nine years, with Steele of the opinion that a proven 29-year-old will embrace the challenge that Henderson’s presence will pose.
He added: “People forget he [De Gea] was a kid taking over from a legend in Edwin van der Sar.
“He just brushed that aside, got on with his job. Overcoming obstacles is not new for David.
“People underestimate him. He has this lovely, calm persona, but he loves winning.
“He came to us having won plenty of youth titles with Spain, he captained Spain Under-21s, he had already won the Europa League. I went to see him in the semi-final against Liverpool and physically he looked a baby, but I saw a goalkeeper that night who was totally unfazed.
“David has always upheld his own standards. Everyone has a dip in form. To continue to perform at the level he was performing at a few years ago would have been impossible – he is part of a major rebuild, and is very much still needed.”