Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that he considered substituting David de Gea for Dean Henderson before Manchester United's penalty shootout defeat to Villarreal.
Solskjaer faced criticism after De Gea had a shootout to forget in his side's Europa League final defeat, conceding 11 penalties in succession, then missing his own spot-kick to seal Man United's fate.
The Spanish keeper has now conceded the last 40 penalties he's faced for club and country - and United boss Solskjaer confessed post-match that bringing on Henderson crossed his mind, but that he had "confidence" in De Gea.
Henderson has saved eight out of the 19 penalties he's faced in his career, leading many to speculate that - as extra time came to an end - Solskjaer might make a late change of goalkeeper.
Instead, the coach brought on Alex Telles and Juan Mata (who both scored in the shootout) for his final substitutions, explaining that swapping goalkeepers was something he considered but ultimately rejected.
:speaking_head:"It had crossed my mind, but we were confident in David."- Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 27, 2021
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer answers whether he considered bringing Dean Henderson on in goal for Manchester United instead of David de Gea in the penalty shoot-out pic.twitter.com/Pe3l8vMaS1
"You go through every scenario, of course, and it [bringing on Henderson] had crossed my mind in the build-up to the game, but we were confident in David and prepared," he told the press.
"Anything can happen in a penalty shootout, so I stuck with the keeper who had played all of the game."
He should have channeled his inner LvG pic.twitter.com/6Kl2FpJr6w- Cantona Collars - Legacy Fan (@Cantona_Collars) May 27, 2021
It crossed my mind how to win the game but we decided to stick with sentiment. Dr Gea falling side to side like a floorboard lent up against door Wilder to Man U? https://t.co/ymq49MDVuG- Calcium (@2DCDH) May 27, 2021
Seen the stats on De Gea vs Henderson from the spot.- Dan Tunna (@dantunna) May 27, 2021
Surely you can tell in training who is more likely to save a penalty?
Or did Utd not practice pens? https://t.co/kDwxALm5Uf
He needs to be ruthless and stamp his authority if he wants to win something with United https://t.co/VAqA9uYCN3- Mayur€sHh (@mayur_mufc) May 27, 2021
You can tell he regrets not making the change.- Anthony McWilliams (@JSharp1800) May 27, 2021
I am a big fan of de Gea but to trust a penalty shootout in European finals to someone who has not saved a penalty in 5 years is a clear lapse of judgement- Maverick3013 (@Maverick30131) May 27, 2021
Solskjaer added: "I've got to say the penalty shootout was high quality, but we didn't do enough in the 120 minutes to score more goals and that's the disappointing bit.
"We had pressure, we had moments where we felt if we can just kick on a little bit now we can get a goal. But we just couldn't."
Some fans were quick to point out that former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal once won a shootout, in the quarter-final of the 2014 World Cup, after the then Holland boss brought on penalty specialist Tim Krul against Costa Rica.
However Solskjaer, understandably wary about humiliating his keeper and retaining faith in De Gea, stuck with his No 1 despite the keeper's last penalty save coming over five years ago (when he saved from Everton's Romelu Lukaku in April 2016).
Devastation for David De Gea :tired_face:- Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 26, 2021
A penalty shoot-out that went all the way to the goalkeepers, but it was Villarreal that came out on top in the end...
What a dramatic ending! #UELfinal pic.twitter.com/9kmoi6lCEa
Henderson has saved several penalties since that date, including one from Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus while he was on loan at Sheffield United last season.
The quality of Villarreal's penalties overall was excellent, but De Gea did go the wrong way on several occasions and dived too early on a pair of weaker efforts down the middle.
It's safe to say that, while we'll never know if United would have won the shootout with Henderson in goal, the 24-year-old couldn't have done much worse than the unfortunate De Gea.
All imagery: PA Images/Twitter
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