Solskjaer plans United’s future, but unsure of his own
Solskjaer is focused on preparing Red Devils for next season by doing well now
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits he is loving life as Manchester United's caretaker manager and is already making plans for next season, even though the Norwegian still does not know if he will remain in charge.
The 45-year-old has made a record-breaking start in charge at Old Trafford, becoming the first manager to begin his United career with eight straight victories.
That has led to a growing clamour from supporters for Solskjaer to be confirmed as manager on a permanent basis, despite United still being linked strongly with Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino.
Victory away at Pochettino's Spurs in the English Premier League and Arsenal in the FA Cup on Friday have dismissed suggestions early in Solskjaer's run that he had just benefited from a kind run of fixtures.
"I love it," said Solskjaer ahead of Burnley's visit to Old Trafford tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
"We've had some fantastic results, great performances. I can see the improvement, just from Tottenham to Arsenal; the way we improved the structure, the ideas, we've got to know one another more and they've got to know me and what I want from the team.
"For a few games everyone said it was just about attacking, attacking, but it's the other part I've been happy with. We've not conceded many chances."
Solskjaer was appointed till the end of the season after Jose Mourinho's sacking last month to buy the United hierarchy time to find a permanent replacement.
However, Solskjaer's case is becoming hard to ignore and he is already looking to the future by hoping to give a number of the club's most promising youngsters games before the end of the campaign.
"We have quite a few talents in the youth team that you'd like to see," he said.
"And will see at some point before next season, to put the club and team in a good position at the end of the season, how will we look next season.
"Mason (Greenwood), Jimmy Garner, Ethan (Hamilton) - it's just about the right time.
"We've got Alexis (Sanchez), Romelu Lukaku and Juan (Mata) who haven't played so much lately. They're three players they have to jump ahead of.
TOUGH FIGHT FOR TOP FOUR
"What Manchester United are going to look like next season with or without me, it doesn't really matter. I'm here to prepare the team for next season. That means doing well now."
Solskjaer's wish to blood youngsters may be tempered by his side's charge towards the top four, with sixth-placed United three points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea.
In fact, United goalkeeper David de Gea has said that, while Solskjaer has brought renewed hope to the club, qualifying for the Champions League will still be difficult.
"We're happy with the wins but we aren't satisfied with the overall situation. This is a club that should be fighting for the title," de Gea told Sky Sports.
"We want to get back into the Champions League places, which will be a difficult objective, but we have managed to reduce the points deficit quite a bit."
De Gea is also wary of their next opponents, who have won 10 points from their last four games.
"Burnley on a good run of results, but we're playing at home and we're also on a good run of form, so we're fully confident of winning all three points," the Spaniard said.
"They are dangerous and we know the kind of style they will use against us. They like to put you under pressure with long balls and they're very dangerous at set-pieces."
Meanwhile, Burnley manager Sean Dyche praised Solskjaer's impact at United and expects a stern test tomorrow from a resurgent side playing with freedom and confidence.
"From the outside looking in, it seems like he has just tried to loosen it a little bit and put more freedom on it," Dyche said.
"A bit more energy seems to have come back to the players. That's a skill in itself. Possibly that is what he has done; he has just given a different feel to the group in his own way.
"They have responded and are delivering good performances. It seems a little bit more spark, not massive tactical changes."
Yet Dyche believes his own side can put a dent in Solskjaer's perfect record, given Burnley's improvement in their league form - the Clarets are unbeaten in their past four league games.
"We have to have a clear mentality," Dyche said.
"The players know United are in good form, they know the bounce from the change of manager and the different feel there.
"But, equally, we have been doing well ourselves ... So we have to look on that as well as keep an eye on the fact they are in form and are a good side."
- AFP, REUTERS