That’s according to former United midfielder Darren Fletcher, who feels the omnipresent threat of losing his place is what’s driving the Spain international to up his game.
While Argentina No. 1 Sergio Romero has been backup at Old Trafford for several seasons, there was never any real push from him to replace De Gea – but now Henderson, who is younger and has designs on being the England international stopper, is pushing De Gea all the way.
“People wonder why Henderson was kept around, and it was to push David,” Fletcher said on BT Sport.
“Romero was always happy to be number two. [De Gea’s] performance tonight was fantastic. Dean Henderson is a threat but he has a lot to learn.”
By the same token, former United defender Rio Ferdinand feels the manager ought to take some of the praise.
There were plenty of calls for De Gea to be dropped last season, with several bad runs of form costing the team goals and points.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stuck with his first choice through the bad patch and is now being rewarded with De Gea’s upturn in fortunes.
“He had a period where he was making mistakes, it wasn't just one game. But Ole backed him, so Ole deserves credit too,” he said.
Henderson has played twice for United this season in the EFL Cup, while Romero has been left out of the Premier League squad list.