As David de Gea gifted Chelsea their goals on Sunday, Manchester United fans would have been forgiven for casting a regretful glance at a man in the stands.
Sergio Romero is United’s man for all occasions. At least, he would be, if he was given the chance.
The Argentine never complains. He waits patiently for the few games he gets. And he invariably impresses. In sort, if you need him, he will excel.
The problem at Wembley was that United’s cup ‘keeper was not on the field. Instead he watched as De Gea inexplicably gave his side a mountain to climb.
You cannot account for such errors. But you can prevent them.
Few United fans would expect Romero to drop the ball. Unfortunately he was overlooked when he should have been one of the first names on the team sheet.
United were always likely to make changes for the semi-final, with matches coming thick and fast. But not this one.
Romero’s record speaks volumes
Romero played every minute in United’s previous six FA Cup games this season and conceded just one goal.
He has also featured seven times in the Europa League and has six clean sheets.
It doesn’t take a genius to see the pattern here. When Romero plays, it is incredibly hard to beat him once; let alone three times.
The United stopper will surely get an uninterrupted run in Europe next month. Any hope De Gea had of playing beyond the end of the Premier League campaign should have gone up in smoke on Sunday.
De Gea is a quality goalkeeper and, on his day, he is United’s best option. The problem is his good days are becoming alarmingly rare.
If they played anywhere else on the field, De Gea’s and Romero’s respective records would prompt a change.
What Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to decide is how much longer he can do United’s best ever second-choice ‘keeper a disservice.
Romero should have started on Sunday. In truth, he should now start until his form suggests otherwise.
The Henderson factor
There has already been talk of what Dean Henderson’s ongoing great form out on loan means for De Gea over the next few years.
But there is now a case to be made that the Spaniard is United’s third-best performing goalkeeper.
Henderson deserves his shot over the summer. But Romero deserves his now.
It is a great problem for United to have…if they make the right choices on the field.
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