IF HALF the shots Dean Henderson faces are as fierce as those he aimed at Manchester United, he’s in for the busiest season of his life.
Ahead of starting on-loan life at Nottingham Forest, keeper Henderson gave United both barrels at what he labelled their criminal treatment of him.
It wasn’t so much a case of burning his bridges at Old Trafford as taking a ton of gelignite to them — and it’s safe to say his days in Manchester are done.
Henderson has been around long enough to realise what the fallout would be and the social media cesspit was soon spewing bile in his direction.
Nothing but a spoilt brat, said some. Pathetic, said others. Should keep quiet and grow a backbone, in the eyes of one more high-profile ‘expert’.
All of whom seem to have forgotten Henderson had every right to believe those at United who told him he’d be first-choice keeper last season.
After all, he’d ended the previous one in that position. And if fate hadn’t conspired against him, he would have been, too.
Maybe people are unaware that David de Gea would have been sold last summer had United found a buyer.
Plenty of fans would have welcomed it, too, after a season in direct contrast to last year. De Gea had, by anyone’s standards, been poor.
The perfect example of how fickle this game can be. As fickle as those now having a pop at Henderson for speaking both his mind and the truth.
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Whether they agree with him or not, he should be applauded for having the balls to do so. He’s certainly in a minority when it comes to that.
You don’t have to look too far in the Old Trafford dressing room to highlight the point. Cristiano Ronaldo, anyone?
For the past month Ronaldo has been drip-feeding anyone prepared to listen about how he wants out of United. Or rather his ‘team’ has been doing his bidding.
Not a word from the man himself, of course. Leaving him the option of saying how it was all media speak, should — as seems likely — he’s still at United next month.
When that happens, ask yourself why, if it’s all bs, he hasn’t already come out and said so. He’s certainly not shy of a post or two.
Henderson — whatever your view on his outburst — has the guts to admit he was p***ed off. Ronaldo hasn’t.
Like the one ahead of last Sunday’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano modestly announcing “the king plays”. Or the post-match one insisting he was “happy to be back”.
Incidentally, to long-term United fans, that royal moniker applies to two people — Denis Law and, to a lesser extent, Eric Cantona, but that’s another issue.
Yet “happy to be back?” Believe that and you’ll believe United are going to win another treble this season. It’s probably more likely than Ronaldo jumping for joy at staying put.
The point being, Henderson — whatever your view on his outburst — has the guts to admit he was p***ed off. Ronaldo hasn’t.
Instead, he has used agents, middlemen and PR flunkies to do the snide stuff and try to engineer a move. Like so many footballers before him.
Publicly they’ll tell the world how happy they are, yet all the while they’re trying to get away. And don’t for one minute think that doesn’t go on. Believe me, it’s commonplace.
Maybe Henderson could have been a little more tactful in his choice of words and, given his time again, he probably would tweak the odd one.
But the sentiment would remain the same. There would be no double-speak, no confusion, no doubting his feelings, that is for certain.
Just a footballer being open, frank and candid about what he really thinks. There aren’t too many of them around, believe me.
The next time the keyboard warriors are kicking off at a manager or player trying to pull the wool over their eyes and feeding them bulls**t, they should remember that.
Henderson’s trophy cabinet will never be as big as Ronaldo’s if he plays until he’s 50.
But in terms of refreshing honesty, he’ll always have bigger balls.
BBC WIN… THEN LOSE
THE BBC did a magnificent job with its coverage of the Lionesses’ Euro triumph.
And the Beeb now appears to have made itself the head promoter and profiler of women’s football.
But while being able to watch the heroics of Leah Williamson and Co on free-to-air TV was a huge help, there is an almighty irony behind it all.
It’s surely a question of when, rather than if, the likes of Sky, BT and others get involved. In which case, the BBC will swiftly become the poor relations of any bidding war.
EIL WATCH IT
THE Commonwealth Games has something of a school sports day feel about it.
Too many top athletes have chosen not to compete and there have been too many late withdrawals to argue otherwise.
But on Wednesday night it was responsible for one of the greatest moments you’ll see in any sport.
The atmosphere when Eilish McColgan won the 10,000m was ear-splitting.
And also two fingers to those who can’t see beyond London in terms of the perfect base for the nation’s athletics.
AS Erik ten Hag starts his debut season in charge at Manchester United, and Pep Guardiola his seventh at City, one less-than-obvious fact has come to light.
It is the first time in half a century — since the days of Wilf McGuinness/Sir Matt Busby at Old Trafford and Joe Mercer at Maine Road — that there has been no need for a managerial comb in Manchester!
The move of Erling Haaland to Manchester City for £51.4million is widely accepted as a bargain in these times of ridiculously inflated fees.
In which case, paying less than a third of that for Argentine striker Julian Alvarez is daylight robbery, if his competitive bow in the Community Shield is anything to go by.