It may be a new season, but it looks to be the same old Linfield.
Well certainly if Saturday’s curtain raising Charity Shield is anything to go by.
David Healy’s men lifted three trophies last season, and it doesn’t look like they have lost any of that appetite for success over the summer break.
The celebrations at The Oval following their 3-1 win over Coleraine may have been a bit subdued and underwhelming, but their play was not. Aaron Burns‘s well-worked goal just before the break cancelled out Josh Carson’s excellent opener for the Bannsiders, before two superb strikes from Andy Mitchell and Paul Smyth sealed the win for David Healy’s men. Who needs Andy Waterworth?
I’m being facetious of course, despite all Linfield’s undoubted quality the loss of Waterworth will be felt by the Blues, unless the likes of Burns, Smyth, Stewart et al step in to fill that void on a consistent basis during his absence.
They certainly looked the part on Saturday, their pace and trickery provided a constant threat, and the perfect foil for a rock solid defensive unit. The real work starts now though, with Healy determined to retain the title they fought so hard to win last time out.
The title race will certainly be a real ding dong battle with both Linfield and Crusaders a lot stronger than last season. It will all come down to fine margins yet again I’m sure as they two heavyweights slug it out.
As for Coleraine they certainly put it up to the Blues for 70 minutes on Saturday before, as boss Oran Kearney admitted, they ran out of steam.
New boys Stephen O’Donnell, Aaron Traynor and Josh Carson all impressed and all looked to have gelled with their new teammates already.
They will need to get their injured players back sooner rather than later though. Thankfully for Kearney though there is some light at the end of the tunnel with several players hoping to return very soon.
With a full compliment of players there’s no reason why the Bannsiders cannot kick on again this season and bring more excitement to The Showgrounds.