Manchester United’s plans for next season remain “up in the air”, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The delayed end to the 2019-20 season caused by coronavirus has meant a lot of the customary off-season planning has had to be shelved while United’s pursuit of a top-four finish and Champions League qualification has exacerbated the problem at Old Trafford.
United’s blistering form post-lockdown means wins in their four remaining games will see them secure a place among Europe’s elite next term, although fifth may yet be enough depending on how the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) views Manchester City’s appeal against a two-season European ban.
With so many variables, Solskjaer concedes there is only so much forward-thinking possible at present.
Speaking ahead of Monday’s game against Southampton, he said: “You can’t really decide on the training programme, there are so many small decisions and, of course, transfers sometimes are out of our hands as well.
“If the team is going well, what do we need? What don’t we need? Do we get injuries? That’s just the way we’re working in this job and you’ve always got to plan for different scenarios.
“The uncertainty of dates, how much holiday can you give them, what will next season look like, it’s still a little bit up in the air.
“I don’t think it’s like dramatic decisions, I don’t think the club would either panic or suddenly go crazy with plans that we’ve already talked about for years to come.
“You do have to have a long-term plan but some short-term, maybe some decisions will be easier to make if you get [into] the Champions League.”
United have received plenty of plaudits for their attack-minded approach since the Premier League resumed but Solskjaer was also keen to talk up the importance of a defence that has conceded just three goals in the past five games in all competitions.
He said: “It’s about winning, of course it is, but it’s also about our fans and the way we approach the game, how we approach football.
“You play with pace, power, you play with no fear, you take risks and you’ve got players who have got quality. That’s just the DNA of the football club.
“Of course, I’m happy when you don’t concede but it’s always been built on a strong foundation.
“When we had [Jaap] Stam and [Ronny] Johnsen, [Gary] Pallister and [Steve] Bruce, fantastic keepers behind them, the engine room with Roy Keane and Bryan Robson laid down foundations for forwards to show their skills. We just need to take it one game at a time.
“Now it’s time to keep our feet on the ground, keep working, and don’t believe all the hype and praise. Same as not believing in all the criticism when you don’t do well: the end is not too far away, so the goal is getting closer.”