Michael Owen suggested Dean Henderson’s lack of regular game-time this season may have been behind his embarrassing blunder in the first half of Manchester United’s nervy 3-2 victory over Premier League strugglers Sheffield United.
Henderson will have been desperate to impress after replacing David de Gea in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s starting XI for the match but the 23-year-old goalkeeper got off to the worst possible start at Bramall Lane, the stadium he called home for the last two years.
It took just five minutes for bottom-placed Sheffield United to go in front after Oliver Burke caught Henderson in possession on the edge of his six-yard box and bundled the ball back to David McGoldrick, who made no mistake from close range.
Marcus Rashford (2) and Anthony Martial netted to give the visitors the lead and spare Henderson’s blushes somewhat before McGoldrick scored his second of the night in the 87th minute to set up a tense finish.
But the Red Devils held on to their narrow advantage to secure all three points and the result moved them up to sixth in the table.
Discussing Henderson’s early error during Amazon Prime Video’s half-time analysis, ex-United striker Owen said: ‘McGoldrick goes left and he goes right and he almost confuses Henderson.
‘When you don’t play too often, those split seconds make a huge difference.’
Club legend Scholes admitted it was a ‘bad goal to give away’ from a United perspective but praised his former side’s reaction to going behind.
‘That’s how United have been starting games,’ he said.
‘They’ve been starting really poorly in the last few games and then seem to react when they go 1-0 down.
‘It was a bad goal to give away but since then they were really good, especially [Paul] Pogba in the centre of the park.
‘The movement of Martial and Mason Greenwood was really good and I think they were worthy of the two goals.’
Eyebrows were raised after Solskjaer dropped De Gea from his starting XI but the Norwegian revealed it was always his plan to start Henderson versus the Blades.
‘It’s one I had pencilled in for him early on,’ Solskjaer told MUTV ahead of kick-off.
I feel Dean is ready as well now to take these games on because he’s played well when he’s played.
‘David did really well against Manchester City, it’s not anything to do with that.’
Asked whether Henderson was selected because of his ‘inside knowledge’, Solskjaer told Amazon Prime Video: ‘No, it’s the same as.
‘I think Dean has played really well. Of course he did really well last time against West Ham when he played in the league.
‘Then again, David’s played two good games now against City and… what was the game before that? I can’t remember the games.
‘I’ve got two great goalkeepers and today was Dean’s chance.’
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