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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits Dean Henderson is close to ousting David De Gea

David de Gea is facing the biggest fight of his career to stay Manchester United No1 with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stating that reputation won't influence his decision and admitting it's becoming 'harder' to leave out his rival Dean Henderson.
De Gea, 30, has been rated as one of the best goalkeepers in the world during his 10-year stay at Old Trafford but has looked shaky this season and was blamed for two of Everton's goals in United's last Premier League game which ended 3-3.

In contrast, Henderson kept a clean sheet in the midweek FA Cup win against West Ham and will hope to get the nod for today's league match at West Brom when United aim to close the gap on leaders Manchester City.

'Everyone knows they have to perform to be in the team,' said Solskjaer addressing the de Gea situation.

'We have at least two players in every position that would feel first choice and the keeper position is no different.

'It's about your performances and what you give to the team. It was a conscious decision to bring Dean back (he was on loan at Sheffield United last season) to have real competition in and Dean has made it harder and harder for me to leave him out because whenever he plays he does really well.

'It's not about who's got the most trophies, it is about what you give to the team here and now, if you are right-back, left-back, left wing, right wing.'

Ditching De Gea would still be a massive statement for Solskjaer. The Spaniard is the only United player used this season who survives from their last title team in 2013.

He signed a bumper new contract in 2019 reported to be worth £350,000-a-week but mistakes have crept in more regularly since then.

Though United's boss has a nice-guy image, he won't allow De Gea or Henderson's personal feelings to affect his selections, and whether they'd accept being second fiddle in the long term.

'Of course we know here we're in a competitive environment, we're at Man United and we are here to win. It is about having the best possible chance to win and you need performances,' said Solskjaer.

'It's not like I am going round telling them jokes and giving them games just to keep them happy. It is more their job to keep me happy and give me more reasons to pick them, That's the way it is.'

Dropping points against Everton was a blow to United's hopes of lifting the title but they go to The Hawthorns still unbeaten in away games and Solskjaer thinks they and Manchester City deserve credit as the only clubs who started the season late because of their European involvement over the summer.

Liverpool and other clubs had a more normal pre-season

'We were disadvantaged at the start of the season with the lack of a pre season, us and City actually, who had played in Europe and had less preparation,' noted Solskjaer, who will have to utilise his squad again next week when the Europa League returns.

'The performances of the two teams has been remarkable to catch up after such a difficult start. We lost very many points then because of the lack of preparation and pre season.'

Ironically, United could not have automatically appointed Solskjaer under current Brexit rules because the Norwegian League where he previously worked is not considered elite.

'Luckily for me it was not like that before,' he says. His reputation has grown during his two years at the helm though a first trophy has been elusive.

Though some of his decisions are reminiscent of the way his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson operated, he doesn't pick up the phone for advice.

'I am probably infuenced by the gaffer by the 15 years I worked with him of course, but we're different personalities,' explains Solskjaer. 'I manage the way I think is right way - I don't ask anyone how I should manage.

'It has been a while since I had a conversation with the gaffer and I've not asked him how I should play this one or that one out. It's been gradual since I came to Man United, I have grown into becoming this person.'

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