The headline-grabbers of Manchester United’s promising start to the season have, perhaps understandably, been the attacking stars who have shot the side up the Premier League table.
However, despite the eye-catching contributions of Cristiano Ronaldo and co, another player has stepped out of the shadows to revive his flagging fortunes.
Step forward David De Gea.
When, back in late May, De Gea failed to stop any of Villareal’s eleven penalties – and proceeded to miss the decider – it seemed like a sadly fitting climax to two years of dwindling form.
With Dean Henderson breathing down his neck and question marks about his fading powers, the Spaniard could have been forgiven for submitting to introspection about his career prospects.
Fast forward to the new season, the 30-year-old has taken advantage of Henderson’s absence through injury and illness to rediscover top form and position himself as the favourite to retain the gloves.
Although the Norwegian is said to have been impressed by the Spaniard’s application, he’s also keen for the returning Henderson to compete against his teammate for the position.
And Solskjaer will ignore calls to settle upon a fixed keeper in the hope that fierce competition will end up benefiting both players and the club in the long run.
With upwards of 50 games to be played in all competitions this season, it’s believed that De Gea, Henderson and Tom Heaton will all get ample opportunities to impress.
For his part, Henderson discussed the mental toll of uncertainty over his place during the summer, which would seem to make Solskjaer’s ploy a high-risk strategy.
Additionally, defences need consistency and familiarity to foster a collective understanding, so United fans will be hoping that question marks over such a vital position won’t undermine advances being made further up the pitch.