Manchester United manager has revealed that goalkeeper David de Gea missed Wednesday’s 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace for personal reasons, hinting that Dean Henderson could be set for an extended run in the team in his place.
There have been plenty of calls from fans for Solskjaer to bench De Gea in favour of Henderson, but the boss has always been reluctant to do so. It was surprising to see the 23-year-old in the starting lineup, but it was more of a surprise to see that De Gea was not in the squad at all.
Before the game, Solskjaer told MUTV that ‘personal reasons’ were behind De Gea’s absence, and he offered up a little more in his post-match press conference.
When asked about a return date for De Gea, Solskjaer told Sky Sports (via the Daily Mail): “That’s a private matter. It’ll take the time it takes.”
Henderson was one of the few bright sparks in a United side which was also missing forward Anthony Martial, who picked up a knock in the build-up to the game. Nemanja Matic’s first-half strike was the team’s only shot on target during the game, and Solskjaer admitted that United have lost their killer instinct recently.
This was United’s third consecutive 0-0 draw, following fellow snoozefests with Chelsea and Real Sociedad, and a loss in form has now seen the team fall 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.
“Of course it’s a concern,” Solskjaer confessed to BBC Sport when asked about his side’s recent slump.
“When you have three clean sheets in a row, that will help you win games – but we haven’t produced the quality. We just have to find a spark again, the quality again and try to win the games.”
This was United’s sixth goalless draw of the season, and they have never managed more in the Premier League era. 2004/05 and 2016/17 also brought along six 0-0 draws, so one more in the remaining 11 games will set a new record.
On the plus side for United, they became just the fifth team in top-flight history to go unbeaten in their first 14 away games of the season. Their chances of making it to 15 may be slim, however, as a trip to the Etihad to face cross-town rivals City on Sunday awaits.