One of the big talking points prior to kick-off of the Europa League semi-final was Sergio Romero being dropped.
First choice goalkeeper David de Gea was brought back into the Manchester United side, with Romero back on the bench, after featuring in nine of the club’s 11 Europa League games in the tournament up to this point.
United lost, although fortunately for De Gea, he was not at fault like he was in the FA Cup final.
It is fair to wonder if Romero would have come out to deal with either of Sevilla’s game-changing crosses and take his defenders off pressure, punching clear is part of his game, although it is unfair to pin either of the goals on De Gea.
It felt disrespectful
No player is guaranteed a start at any level, but Romero has carved out a role for himself as United’s cup goalkeeper during his time at the club.
Romero is no unknown quantity. He has played in a World Cup final for Argentina, and he has also even actually won the Europa League as a starter for Manchester United in 2017.
On one hand Solskjaer may have been looking to make his task easier to pick De Gea in the final by making the change earlier, but Romero is a proven commodity and deserved his opportunity.
This is not a season where De Gea has stood out head and shoulders above his back-up.
The Spaniard has made uncharacteristic errors and at times there have been calls from supporters for Romero to replace him.
Unlike Dean Henderson who is reported to be unwilling to return as a back-up (The Mail), Romero is happy to take on the role.
If being critical, you could say he is too comfortable, but his performances have been strong and he deserved a chance to try and finish off the Europa League campaign which he started.
Romero kept clean sheets in seven of the nine games he played in the Europa League, conceding only two goals. This will be enough to win him the tournament’s Golden Glove.
The Times report that Romero’s save percentage of 85% is higher than both De Gea (72) and Dean Henderson (75).
The goalkeeper told the club website in December: “I’ve spent four fantastic years at this club. So much so that I want to stay here as long as I possibly can. If I was playing more regularly and featuring in more games, I would be the happiest goalkeeper and person in the world.
“But the fact that I’m still playing the odd game here and there, I’m still very happy with my situation because I’m at a great club which I want to stay at.”
His patience may have been tested
Romero being dropped left a bad taste for supporters with it felt as though he had another opportunity taken away from him after the FA Cup final debacle.
If De Gea had made a couple of wonder saves it would have been an easier decision to accept, but as it was, the selection of the Spaniard made no discernible difference to the result in terms of giving United an advantage.
Over the past month Romero has been linked with an exit, with Everton and Leeds both accredited with interest in his services (ESPN).
If an offer of first team football was on the table from Romero, from anywhere, it would be hard to begrudge him taking it.
For Romero to be happy in his number two role, you have to give him the opportunities he has earned in that position, and Solskjaer did not do that in either semi-final. It felt like a betrayal of a fine servant to the club.
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