Belfast Telegraph

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer passing United vision on to chiefs

Just tops: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Just tops: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

By Simon Peach

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward how he sees Manchester United developing over the coming years, even if he is not there to fulfil the vision.

Jose Mourinho lost his job in December as poor performances compounded background issues, with the Old Trafford giants surprisingly turning to a fan favourite for the remainder of the season.

Solskjaer - yesterday named Manager of the Month for January, with Marcus Rashford the Player of the Month - is due to return to his role as Molde manager in the summer, but the 1999 treble hero is now bookmakers' favourite for a job he is understandably keen to stay in.

Nine wins from his first 10 matches in all competitions have helped win over doubters, providing the Norwegian with a platform on which to build for the future.

"Every day I feel that I do help the club, do put a little bit of my stamp on it, yes," the caretaker United boss said, having seen Phil Jones sign a new deal until at least 2023 yesterday. "But sometimes decisions regarding players' futures, they are not down to me either.

"It's the players. Do they want to stay? Do they want to move on? Do they want something else?

"But we have a vision and a picture of how we want to look in a few years - and, of course, we have to think long-term but also short-term. So, I've got a picture of how I think this Man United team will look in a couple of years.

"I don't know if it's with me, but I always put my views across to Ed and the ones in the club."

Woodward will certainly have been impressed by the confidence Solskjaer has instilled in the previously ailing side, with the caretaker boss liking how Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard have this week spoken up their title ambitions.

For now, though, the focus is on this lunchtime's trip to embattled Fulham and getting a win that can see them break into the top four.

"Of course, you take one step at a time and that's one of the goals that we've set for ourselves, that we move into that top four, and if we do so then we want to stay there and improve on that," the United caretaker boss said.

"Of course, it's been fantastic the last two months now with the points we've got.

"So, consistency is now the key word, that we keep on improving, keep on winning games - but winning games in a better way than say the Leicester one.

"I felt we hung on. I felt it was good enough, but we shouldn't just be happy with just good enough.

"We want to improve in games like this. Fulham now coming up is a character revealer, really.

"It reveals whether we have the focus on what's important, which is always the next game in football. Can we forget about PSG (Champions League clash on Tuesday) and all the games coming up?

"I know the focus around the place and in the media has been about the PSG game for a long time, Chelsea, Liverpool, but they're not the games that will move us up the table."

Marcos Rojo has returned to training in the build-up to the Fulham match, but Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia miss out through injury.

Solskjaer has confirmed that the latter remains United's club captain, but the Ecuador full-back has only appeared once since the Norwegian's appointment.

"Well, hopefully he'll recover because he's been training hard then he got a setback, so hopefully in a couple of weeks he'll be back with us," Solskjaer said.

"He's been a fantastic servant at the club, he's captain for a reason and hopefully we can get him back on the pitch. But it was hard when he broke down because he would've travelled this weekend."

Premier League fixtures (3pm unless stated): Today: Fulham v Man United (12.30pm), Crystal Palace v West Ham, Huddersfield v Arsenal, Liverpool v Bournemouth, Southampton v Cardiff, Watford v Everton, Brighton v Burnley (5.30pm). Tomorrow: Tottenham v Leicester (1.30pm), Man City v Chelsea (4pm). Monday: Wolves v Newcastle (8pm).

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