Linfield boss David Healy admits champions have a goal on their backs

Linfield boss David Healy admits his boys will have a huge target once the new Danske Bank Premiership campaign kicks off.

The former Northern Ireland striker has boasted a phenomenal record since taking his first managerial position in 2016, lifting the league title for the fourth consecutive time in April last year and fifth overall.

Quite frankly, Healy insists that there is always pressure at Linfield to get things done, and that’s what makes him successful.

And while he has left more questions than answers with his reactions and comments since his team’s last success in April, he still has an insatiable appetite to get even better.

“There is always pressure on me and on the players,” Healy says.

“We are always public enemy number one. The fact that we have won the title within the last four years does not put more pressure on us – absolutely not.

“This is what is expected in a football club. We know that the teams will chase us, it goes without saying.

“But I believe that with investments in some clubs over the past few years, there will be huge pressure on other managers to succeed.

“There is only one team that can win the league title. Yes, there are other cup tournaments, but the League is the most important.

“I’m putting myself under a lot of pressure because of the role and responsibility I’m giving Linfield. But I would guess there are three or four other clubs and three or four other managers that will be pressured, so we’ll see what happens.”

Although the Blues were pushed to the limit by Paddy McLaughlin’s Cliftonville last season, Healy expects other clubs to up the ante as well.

“I expect Glentoran and other clubs to improve on the results of the season just completed,” he adds.

“There will be tremendous pressure on other managers, I have no illusions about the pressure we put ourselves under at Linfield Football Club.

“There is nothing wrong with the fact that we have almost reached the goal, but some supporters, chairmen and investors will apply a little pressure to succeed.

“Cliftonville has probably been a surprise package for a lot of people, the issue for them now is can they improve on what they did last year?

“I was not surprised by the level of players the club brought in and the players they had. They all benefit from the way Paddy interacts and manages.

“When the clash became tense further down the line, I repeated my thoughts to many people – this is what I expected from the Reds.

“Each club has been active during the summer in terms of the transfer window and they have signed players with the goal of being in contention for the title. We have no illusions. I have always said that my goal and my goal is the home season, this is our bread and butter. Winning the League gives you a platform and the opportunity to play in Europe – and this time nothing will change.

“I would be lying before the start of the season if I didn’t believe and didn’t understand that I had to succeed at Linfield. I want to be successful.

“It will be even more difficult. If you look at the level of some League signings over the summer, most teams have improved a lot.

“We think we have improved with the players we have brought in. We are now one year further in terms of moving from part-time football to full-time football. We are happy with what we have done and happy with what we are doing.

“Now we look forward to seeing where this takes us.”

Since the Blues are engaging in European action that coincides with the start of the League’s campaign, Healy insists it won’t give him sleepless nights.

He explains: “In the first weeks of the season we will have European matches coinciding with the start of the League campaign.

“We don’t know how long this will last, but we want to go as far as we can in Europe. We will prepare accordingly in the future. We won’t do anything extraordinary.

“I know everyone is talking about an Irish League club reaching the group stages of some European tournaments, but I will let other people talk about it.

“We will focus on the games we need to play. Once the League starts, we will prepare for it when it comes to us or whatever situation we find ourselves in.”