Dean Henderson’s bid for a sixth successive clean sheet came to an abrupt end in injury time against AC Milan.

United’s defenders marked Simon Kjaer poorly from the late corner, and his powerful header was too much for Henderson to keep out.

Henderson should have done better. He got a hand to it, but barely. The header was in the centre of his goal and was within reach, he was just slow to react.

Manchester United v A.C. Milan - UEFA Europa League Round Of 16 Leg One
(Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not sugar coat it after the game. While perhaps not a key error, it was a situation where Henderson still should have done better.

Solskjaer said everybody defending the corner was at fault including his goalkeeper.

He told the club website: “Well, it’s a header from six yards. He can save it from there; I’ve seen him save from there. But it’s the structure we lose, we dropped a yard or two too deep and we get blocked.

“Kjaer makes a good run, he’s strong and his marker is blocked off and he gets the header on it. We should have attacked the ball with the men we had there. It’s disappointing but that can happen.”

A challenge for Henderson to overcome

This is life at Manchester United for Henderson now. Every goal he concedes will be magnified, and scrutinised for errors by the press, and by some supporters. Especially with David de Gea still at the club.

If Henderson wants the number one shirt, then he has to get used to this.

The young goalkeeper is supremely confident. Five successive clean sheets will help with that.

 

The big test for him now is how he will respond to disappointment and scrutiny, with his performances being closely examined.

This was a reality check moment for him, after being roundly praised for his contribution to the win over Manchester City.

He’s been here before of course. Last season on loan at Sheffield United he conceded a clanger against Liverpool. It was an embarrassing mistake, and one he shook off, with a string of clean sheets, and he made sure it did not happen again all season long.

Henderson was making just his 16th appearance for Manchester United. David de Gea by comparison has 434.

With respect to De Gea who has been great, he too concedes goals like this. Nobody can be perfect all the time – even though these are the standards Manchester United fans call for.

Henderson won’t like losing his clean sheet run, and he won’t like hearing Solskjaer’s comments, although he will acknowledge his manager is correct.

Manchester United v A.C. Milan - UEFA Europa League Round Of 16 Leg One
(Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

It should make him even more determined to deliver a strong performance in his next game. That’s what being a Manchester United player is all about, being resilient and using adversity to become stronger.

This is all part of the learning curve for Henderson, and he has two choices, to react and get better, or go into his shell and retreat and let more errors follow. From everything we have seen so far from the young goalkeeper, he will use this to rise to the challenge.

De Gea is still in Spain and Henderson should remain in goal against West Ham on Sunday. There’s a good chance he will be in for the second leg against AC Milan too.

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