Henderson: Europa League is a big chance for us
Dean Henderson says Manchester United have put the disappointment of the Champions League exit in the past and are now ready to make a full assault on the Europa League.
The Academy graduate made his European debut when we played Istanbul Basaksehir in the latter competition back in November.
But despite that debut ending in a 2-1 defeat, Henderson is looking forward to the resumption of our continental campaign this week, when we travel to Turin to contest the first leg of our last-32 tie with Real Sociedad.
“Obviously we’re out of the Champions League which this club wants to be in,” admits Henderson. “But the Europa League is the next step and we want to win it.
“Real Sociedad are a great team and I’m sure it’s going to be really difficult. Obviously the boys will have played against [David] Silva a lot and Adnan [Januzaj] was here as a kid, so he’s a got a lot of ability.
“They’ll be very good and they’ll be at it and in our faces and won’t make it easy for us. We’ve got to be on our toes and ready for what’s coming.”
The game will take place at Juventus's Allianz Stadium, for reasons relating to COVID-19 restrictions in Spain, but Dean believes that should play on the minds of the opposition players, rather than United's.
“I don’t think it will affect us massively,” he explains, “because obviously their home advantage is taken away. It’s a nice stadium and we’ll go there and look to get the win.
“But this one is going to be really tough over two legs and we’ll have to be at our best to try to get a result.”
Henderson could be set to appear in his fifth different competition for the club in Italy, and says that both he and the entire squad are keen to get stuck into the Europa League, as they chase United's first major trophy since 2017.
“Trophies are massive at this football club,” he stresses, “and they’re well overdue, so we definitely want to win something this season. That’s what everyone in this group is working towards.”
Reflecting on his personal progress this season, he says: “I’ve just got to keep ticking along, keep doing well and my best is yet to come. I’ll keep waiting for those opportunities to come and hopefully I can build a bit of momentum and show my best form.”