(Reuters) - Manchester United must treat Saturday’s Premier League trip to Fulham as a test of character before a run of season-defining fixtures across domestic and European competitions, caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday.
Solskjaer has won nine out of his first 10 games at Old Trafford but he knows tougher challenges lie in wait as they face French champions Paris St Germain in a Champions League last-16 tie and Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round this month.
Fifth-placed United are also locked in a battle with Arsenal and Chelsea to clinch a top-four spot, and will host arch-rivals Liverpool on Feb. 24.
“You take one step at a time, and that’s one of the goals we have set – moving into the top four,” Solskjaer told reporters.
“If we do so, we want to stay there and improve on that. It’s been fantastic the last two months, so consistency is now the key word.
“We want to improve. Fulham is a ‘character revealer’. It reveals ‘do we have the focus on what’s important?’ It’s always the next game in football. Can we forget about PSG?”
Solskjaer has made no secret of his desire to take over full time and he said he has discussed his long-term plans with United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward.
“Everyday I feel that I do help the club and put a little bit of my stamp on it,” the Norwegian manager said.
“I’ve supported and followed Manchester United for many, many years and I did have a clear view on what I thought my opinion would be.”
Phil Jones became the latest player to commit his long-term future to United on Friday when the England centre-back signed a new 4-1/2 deal and follows forward Anthony Martial’s deal until 2024.
British media reports said Marcus Rashford, David De Gea, Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Ander Hererra are all in talks over a new deals as Solskjaer hopes United will be in a position to challenge for the league title next season.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir