Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants Manchester United back fighting on all fronts and believes two years is enough to become serious Premier League title challengers, even if he is not there to fulfil the vision.
Poor performances and background issues led Jose Mourinho to lose his job in December when the Old Trafford giants surprisingly decided to turn to the fan favourite for the remainder of the season.
Solskjaer has confounded the doubters by winning nine of his first 10 matches in all competitions and being named January’s Barclays manager of the month – the first United boss to win the award since Sir Alex Ferguson in 2012.
Now the favourite to take the job on a permanent basis rather than return to Molde, the Norwegian says he already has a “picture of how I think this Man United team will look in a couple of years”.
Solskjaer has put those views across to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who cannot fail to be impressed by the caretaker’s work and belief that United will soon go from a top-four fight to genuine title challengers.
“I think we’re too far behind this year, obviously,” he said of this year’s Premier League title race. “But you’ve got to catch up with the other teams ahead of us, especially (Manchester) City, Liverpool but now Tottenham – they’re really in the running as well.
“So obviously it’s three teams that have been far ahead but we’ve beaten Tottenham, so we know that we’re capable of that but we need the consistency.
“But two years’ time is long enough, but also short enough to say that we’ve got the possibility to make a big difference in our preparation, in everything. Next year, you always hope, of course.
“I came in from Molde, they were 10th in 2010, and in 2011 we won the league, so you can never say never.”
Solskjaer says “challenging for every trophy” is the vision and what United should be about given their history, resources and infrastructure.
It is a far cry from the tone struck by Mourinho, who led the side to Europa League glory in 2017 but spoke about United’s lack of recent continental “heritage” when exiting the Champions League to Sevilla the following year.
Put to him that it is a long time since United were considered regular Champions League favourites, Solskjaer said: “But that is what we have to strive for.
“If we don’t dream and we don’t have that vision of where we are going, then we will just falter. So for us, or me, I am only used to this club challenging for trophies so that is where I see us.”
Those words will be music to the ears of Woodward, so too Solskjaer’s focus on improvement rather than a major overhaul of a squad currently sat in fifth.
“Well, I think it is about who we’ve got here as well,” the interim United boss said when asked how many players it would take to make this a title-challenging team.
“If every single player can improve by one or two per cent… so it is not about X amount of players.
“It has to be the right one, it has to be one who fits the personality, has to fit in with the team.
“It’s not just buy a superstar and that will fix things and suddenly we go from challenging to be among the top four and being the champions.”
For now, the focus is on beating Fulham on Saturday lunchtime and breaking into the top four – a position Solskjaer is “very confident” of finishing in this season.
The former United striker also has Champions League and FA Cup exertions to balance so, like mentor Ferguson, keeps a keen eye on the upcoming games.
“I plan many, many weeks ahead but that is dependent on form, injuries, sickness,” Solskjaer added.
“It might change if we lost that game or won that game, and I might make a different decision because you always leave it until the last day, really.
“I’ve got a bit of a view on how the team will look against Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG, but the closer you get to the Fulham game the more focused you are on just that one.”
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