Dean Henderson's comments on building rapport with United fans could offer future hint
Dean Henderson’s future at Manchester United looks uncertain as the end of the season draws near and the summer approaches.
It’s been a frustrating season for the 25-year-old who has had to play second fiddle to David de Gea and as a result has dropped down the England pecking order.
Just three first team appearances for United, none of which have come in the Premier League, have significantly damaged Henderson’s chances of securing a place in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad.
But with a new permanent manager due to be appointed at Old Trafford in the coming months, Henderson will be hoping the new boss follows in the footsteps of Spain boss Luis Enrique, who has given other goalkeepers the chance ahead of de Gea.
Henderson and de Gea battled for the number one spot last season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but the campaign was largely played behind closed doors due the Covid-19 pandemic.
With no top-flight appearances to his name this season, it means that Henderson is yet to play a Premier League game at Old Trafford with a full crowd in attendance.
Henderson’s three outings this season have all come at the Theatre of Dreams, but they were a Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham, a Champions League dead rubber against Young Boys and a penalty shootout defeat to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup third round.
Henderson is desperate to build a rapport with the Old Trafford faithful and feel the buzz of the Stretford End in a Premier League game.
With United’s season threatening to fizzle out without trace, interim boss Ralf Rangnick may grant Henderson his wish in the coming months as he shuffles his pack.
But with 29 games under his belt for United, 13 of which have come in the Premier League, Henderson is evidently still irked by not breaking new ground.
In an interview with the club’s website, Henderson said he ‘thrives’ off the positive energy from the crowd.
Henderson said: “I love it. I love playing in front of the supporters. Wherever I’ve been, I’ve always built up good relationships with them because I think they can help on a Saturday as much as we can help each other. I think they can become the 12th man.
“Unfortunately, at this moment in time, I’ve not yet had the opportunity here [in the league at Old Trafford] because we had Covid last year.
“It’s been a shame and that is something that grinds on me. I believe I can have an unbelievable relationship with the Manchester United fans, but until that day comes, I’ll keep working hard in the background. One day, I’ll build that rapport with them and kick on.”
Despite having a season to forget, which started with him pulling out of the European Championships squad through injury and then testing positive for Covid-19 in pre-season, which derailed his chances of challenging de Gea, Henderson’s self-belief will not waiver.
The academy graduate remains as confident as ever that he will take any chance to impress that is presented to him.
“You’ve got to believe in yourself,” he stated. “When you come into the team, you’ve just go to go out there, and it shows within my performances that I crack on with it.
“I’ve got that belief, that determination, that hunger. Mentally, up there, I know I have not left any stones unturned, and I’m ready for when a run of games come.”
It promises to be a defining few months for Dean Henderson and that first conversation with Manchester United’s new manager will likely dictate how his summer pans out.