Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his Manchester United players must become fitter and he is hoping their forthcoming training camp in Dubai will inspire a surge up the Premier League table in the second half of the campaign.
United will fly out to the Gulf for a four-day training camp following their FA Cup third-round tie against Reading today (12.30) with a trip to Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham Hotspur waiting next weekend.
Pochettino is the favourite to become United's next permanent manager following Jose Mourinho's dismissal last month, but next Sunday's meeting at Wembley will be caretaker Solskjaer's first big-game opportunity to stake his own credentials.
The Norwegian has made an impressive start to his second life at Old Trafford, winning his opening four games, but he believes raising his squad's fitness levels will help United contend with tougher tests to come.
"We can get fitter and we have to do that through the training sessions here, but Dubai is a good chance because now is the first time we get a week of work together," Solskjaer said yesterday.
"The ones who have not been in the squad have worked on their fitness."
Solskjaer offers regular reminders in his press conferences that his main coaching inspiration is Alex Ferguson, who he spent 11 years under at United as a player, and extra fitness work in the new year is another trick out of the Scot's playbook.
"I still have pictures in my mind every January, the gaffer (Ferguson) with the stopwatch and he times us - all of those runs," Solskjaer recalled.
"That stood us in good stead towards the end of the season, so it is a time to work hard."
United's FA Cup campaign begins against Championship strugglers Reading with Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku set to earn their first starts of the Solskjaer era.
© Independent News Service