For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, things are about to turn serious. A pedestrian 2-0 FA Cup victory over Reading marked the last of the gentle series of fixtures which have eased the former Manchester United striker into the Old Trafford dugout.

Next Monday, however, he takes his team to Wembley to face a high-flying Tottenham side whose confidence and ability were given telling expression by their 7-0 Cup thumping of Tranmere. And Solskjaer is more than aware of what lies ahead.

"Spurs away, that's a proper test," he said. "They have performed fantastically this season, they've got a great way of playing. There will be loads of things we need to look at."

The match will have the added twist that the caretaker will be up against Mauricio Pochettino, the manager widely reckoned to be the favourite to take on the United role full-time in the off-season.

Advertisement

"He has got them performing really well over the last few seasons," said Solskjaer of his rival, "both as individuals and we have to look at the team unit and how we play against them."

His preparations for the confrontation will be conducted in Dubai. Immediately after dispatching a game but blunt Reading side, Solskjaer and his squad (minus Paul Pogba, who is to receive further treatment following his brush with Jonjo Shelvey's studs) flew out of Manchester airport. The break was scheduled before the new man's appointment but he is relishing the opportunity to conduct some longer-term planning.

"We don't go to Dubai and just prepare for Tottenham," he said. "We have to prepare for the rest of the season and it's how we fare against Paris Saint-Germain, how we fare against Liverpool, because they are the top teams of Europe now."

What he wants to do in the sunshine is further acquaint the squad with his ideas. His aim is to continue the move from the safety-first approach of his predecessor to the more traditional United virtues of attack, attack and attack. It is this, he says, rather than any specific league position, that marks his ambition.

"I'm not going to say top four is our target because my target is also a certain way of playing. That certain way of playing will get us to where we belong in the end. It depends on the performances."

While the fixture computer may have gifted Solskjaer the most open goal of his management career, as he showed on the pitch, he never worried about how easy a chance was. He just put it away. And the work he has been doing with his strikers since arriving in Manchester has centred on finishing. While he may not have been faced a defence as coherent as Tottenham's recently, against a Reading side which is marooned in the Championship relegation places, Romelu Lukaku, for instance, did not pass up the opportunity to score his third goal in as many games under Solskjaer.

"He talks to me all the time and I like that," said the Belgian of the caretaker manager. "From the first day when I came back in, he did a total analysis of my game and I was really surprised and he helped me a lot and I am looking forward to keeping on working with him."

Were the Solskjaer revolution to continue with victory over Spurs, he will have made the most successful ever start as a United manager, overhauling Sir Matt Busby's record of winning his first five matches in charge. Not that the temporary boss seemed motivated by such thoughts.

Advertisement

"I don't care," he said of the landmark. "Not now. I might sit down in 20 years and look at whatever records I have. When I'm in a position, I never look back on what I'm doing that way. Never, ever."

Just as he never did when facing an open goal.