Glentoran legend Mark Glendinning believes Linfield will be firm favourites to win the title again when the Danske Bank Premiership resumes at the end of next month.
Boss David Healy has guided Linfield to four titles in five seasons and this year’s league and Irish Cup double underlined the Windsor Park side’s dominance.
Clubs such as Larne, Glentoran and Coleraine will be looking to knock the Blues off their perch but Glendinning, who won the championship with the Glens in 2005, believes Linfield will take some stopping.
“It’s a great league we have but Linfield were worthy winners last season and they deserved to win it,” said the former Bangor and Glenavon ace.
“I think they will be the team to beat again.
“I still see them as the favourites while seeing progression from other sides.
“Larne have got through a round in Europe which will allow them to invest in their team more.
“Glentoran have qualified for Europe and it is progression but they want to win a championship.
“The money is huge in the Champions League.
“The money makes the league better but you want to be the best team and the best team wins the league.
“When the Glens click they can be very good and their big squad should help them.
“They have a lot of good young players such as Mal Smith but they need a good start and must be more ruthless.
“If they can bring a few more players in they can challenge.
“Linfield have set the standard and I think they have been excellent with Jimmy Callacher impressive at the back.”
Mark has always kept a close eye on the fortunes of his former club and that will move up a level now that son Ross has joined Mick McDermott’s side.
“It’s a nice move for Ross and hopefully it will work out for him,” he added.
“When you get a chance you need to take it, especially at the top clubs.
“It’s a battle to keep the jersey. You need to perform to hold onto the shirt.
“He’s learning a lot from Mick, Windy (Paul Millar), Dayle Coleing and Elliott Morris.
“I’ve never seen Elliott in better condition!
“He’s kept himself fit, managed his back well and has all that experience to draw upon.”
Mark’s other son Reece is at Carrick Rangers where Stuart King has taken charge in his first top-flight managerial role.