Daley Blind hopes Shield is springboard for Man Utd


London (AFP) – Daley Blind believes Manchester United’s Community Shield victory can be the springboard for a Premier League title challenge. 

Jose Mourinho’s side beat champions Leicester 2-1 in the annual curtain raiser in the English top-flight season at Wembley on Sunday. 

While the Shield is not always a reliable barometer of future success, United defender Blind is confident the first silverware of the Mourinho era can be the prelude to bigger prizes.

“I think we said it last year as well, a club like Manchester United always wants to play for titles,” Blind said. 

“So we are competing in every competition the club is in and we want to win whatever we can.” 

United finished outside the Premier League’s top four last term, so Mourinho has been rebuilding his squad since replacing the sacked Louis van Gaal and two of the new signings impressed against Leicester.

Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the 83rd minute winner with a towering header, while Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly was an aggressive and mobile presence in central defendce. 

With Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba due to undergo a medical on Monday ahead of his proposed world record transfer to United, Dutch international Blind says there is a buzz of optimism at Old Trafford after the drab reign of the cautious van Gaal. 

“It’s exciting times. I’m optimistic because we have a great squad and we already have our first trophy with the Community Shield and there’s a lot more to come,” he said. 

“We wanted to win this trophy and we considered it a very important game. We worked hard to win the FA Cup and that means you also get to play this game and we wanted to win it. 

“If you look over the season Leicester worked very hard to win the league and we worked very hard to win the Cup. 

“That means both teams are standing to win another prize. And we’re happy to have it. If you play for a prize you want to win it.” 

– Hunger –

Meanwhile, Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel slammed the doubters who claim the champions have no chance of retaining the title. 

Claudio Ranieri’s 5,000-1 outsiders caused one of the greatest upsets in sporting history when they won the Premier League last season, but bookmakers and pundits have shown them little respect ahead of the new campaign. 

Although Leicester have lost key midfielder N’Golo Kante to Chelsea, Schmeichel is adamant his team-mates are still hungry to prove they can compete at the top of the Premier League. 

“When you win a Premier League after a couple of weeks it still feels surreal and you have to feel if the hunger is still there,” he said. 

“In training straight away the love and hunger for the game was there. I could feel it with everybody. We were buzzing to be back. 

“I didn’t experience any complacency when I walked into the dressing room. I experienced a bunch of players just as hungry as last season. 

“We don’t proclaim to do this or that. We give our best and hope for a positive outcome. That approach has brought us a lot of success.” 

After relying on the goals of England striker Jamie Vardy last season, Ranieri has bolstered his attacking options with several under-the-radar signings.

Schmeichel has been impressed by the new recruits and believes the extra pace the likes of Ahmed Musa and Bartosz Kapustka will provide can make them an even more formidable prospect. 

“They (the new signings) are top players. Musa, his pace is frightening. We’ve got some great options going forward, bags of pace,” he said.

“Any defence coming up against that will be worried.”

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