Belfast Telegraph

Linfield aim simple... it's to win the Danske Bank Premiership title: David Healy

Linfield boss sets sights on glory

By Steven Beacom

Linfield boss David Healy didn't dodge the question. He could have given the stock answer you hear from so many managers at this time of year when they say their teams are out to do their best.

The 36-year-old is as straight talking in charge of the Blues as he was straight shooting when playing and scoring a record-breaking number of goals for Northern Ireland.

So, what's the aim for you and the club this season?

"To win the league. Simple as that," came the instant response from Healy, about to embark on his first full campaign as Linfield's supremo.

He quickly added: "There's no point in me lying about it and saying we hope to do this and we hope to do that. The aim has to be to become champions. Anything other than that would be disappointing for us."

Healy doesn't see those comments as adding pressure on himself to deliver Linfield's first title since 2012. His view is that it is already there and he is content to deal with it.

"I knew the expectation levels of Linfield supporters when I took the job," he said.

"The pressure is there but there's always been pressure during my career. When I was playing for Northern Ireland I was always expected to turn up, score goals and perform.

"As a manager the difference is that you feel more responsible for results. You take full accountability for the team and the way we play."

Last term Linfield finished runners-up to Crusaders in the Danske Bank Premiership and lost to Glenavon in the Irish Cup final and Ballymena United in the County Antrim Shield decider.

Healy is determined for the Blues to lift silverware this term rather than watch others dance around with trophies.

To that end he has recruited two former international team-mates, goalkeeper Roy Carroll and midfielder Sammy Clingan (above) and brought defender Chris Casement back to the club from Portadown.

Expect more signings to follow before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

You get the feeling the former Manchester United, Rangers and Leeds star is now putting 'his team' together having replaced Warren Feeney at the Windsor Park helm in October last year.

Suggest that to the man who scored some of the most famous goals in his country's history and he disagrees.

"I thought it was my team last year. I saw it as my team through the disappointing spell that we had and when we were playing really well," he said.

"Once you are named manager it's your responsibility to try and get the best out of the players, so in my view it is your team, whether you or someone else brought the players in."

On the big name new recruits, he added: "Roy and Sammy will bring us knowhow. Anyone who witnessed Roy's two performances in our European games against Cork would admit that he still has great ability. He'll be a huge plus for us.

"Being vocal and able to organise is something that we need. Our other two goalkeepers Ross Glendinning (now on loan to Ballymena) and Gareth Deane are good goalkeepers and will be really good goalkeepers but I needed someone like Roy to give us that little bit of experience.

"Sammy will give us quality. He can see a pass, can keep the ball and he knows where to be on the pitch at certain times. It's something we are always asking our players to do, anticipate where the ball will drop, and Sammy has that quality in abundance. He is someone I have played with. I have a lot of respect for him as a person and a footballer.

"Sammy has come through a tough time with injury but I believe he can be a big asset for us while another of our new signings Chris Casement is technically a very good footballer. He has been at the club before and knows what is needed here.

"I can't wait for the new season and I want our fans to look forward to it with positivity. I love being manager of Linfield and every single day I'm trying to improve as a manager and improve us as a team and a club."

Ahead of Linfield's opening game this season at Ballinamallard United on Saturday, Healy believes that, along with his team, Crusaders, Cliftonville, Glenavon and Glentoran will aim to mount a title challenge.

He says whoever finishes above the Crues will be champions. Healy is intent that it will be Linfield.

Linfield briefing

Manager: David Healy

Captain: Andy Waterworth

Star Player: Roy Carroll

Ins: Roy Carroll, Sammy Clingan, Cameron Stewart, Chris Casement

Outs: Chris Hegarty, Ivan Sproule, Guy Bates, Callum Byers, Gary Lavery, Danny Wallace, TJ Murray, Seanna Foster, Ross Glendinning

Verdict: Runners-up

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