Jose Mourinho has ended the debate as to which Manchester United goalkeeper will start the club's very first Europa League final, with the previously-maligned Sergio Romero set to retain his place ahead of first-choice rival David De Gea for the eagerly-anticipated clash with Ajax.
Romero has massively improved his reputation by keeping 10 clean sheets in 16 appearances so far this term, although a starting berth for Stockholm appeared far from guaranteed despite him featuring in 11 of 14 continental ties to date. This was primarily due to his manager refusing to offer any reassurances and publicly reiterating his opposition to labelling the Argentine as his "Europa League goalkeeper".
Having appeared in all of United's knockout games with Saint-Etienne, FC Rostov and Anderlecht, Romero once again proved himself more than capable during a two-legged semi-final affair against Celta Vigo.
Pressed on the issue once more following a nervy 1-1 second-leg draw at Old Trafford that saw his side just navigate their way through a truly explosive finish, Mourinho confirmed that the 30-year-old would start at Friends Arena on Wednesday 24 May provided "everything goes normally".
"There was no dilemma," he said of his decision to start Romero again on Thursday evening (11 May). "They are two fantastic goalkeepers. I never saw, in all my career, two goalkeepers who are such friends because it's a position where you always have a little bit of rivalry, especially if they are both at the same kind of level.
"We are speaking about Argentina's national goalkeeper and Spain's national goalkeeper but they are such friends and support each other all the time. I have never seen a bad face. I have always seen them supporting each other.
"I think it's fair Sergio is going to play in the final and David accepts that, especially because he has played three Europa League matches already – two against Feyenoord and one against Fenerbahce. [That means] if we win the trophy, David wins the trophy too. If everything goes normally, and we have no problems, Sergio plays in the final."
United, who are relying upon a maiden Europa League triumph to secure qualification for the Champions League having effectively given up on their pursuit of a top-four finish domestically ahead of matches against Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace, will be without Eric Bailly against Ajax as well as injured quintet Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Timothy Fosu-Mensah. The influential Ivorian centre-back was sent off during the latter stages of that second meeting with Celta after clashing with John Guidetti and Facundo Roncaglia during an ugly mass brawl.
"I don't know about it [the incident against Celta Vigo]," Mourinho said. "I didn't see it. I don't want to see it now, maybe tomorrow, but even if it was unfair, I don't think the Uefa rules will allow any chance of an appeal. So I don't think he plays in the final. If he doesn't play in the final, he has to play the remaining matches in the Premier League and give rest to some of the others."