LONDON (AFP) - In the final moments before Sunday's Community Shield clash against Portsmouth, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will look into his players' eyes and feel reassured that the club's future is in good hands.
Just 10 weeks after the curtain finally came down on a magnificent campaign that included Premier League and Champions League glory, United return to action in the Wembley friendly that marks the start of the English season.
While United's ascent to the pinnacle of domestic and European football in May would be enough to satisfy the appetites of many, Ferguson is driven by a burning desire to establish his club alongside iconic teams like Real Madrid's 1950s vintage and the Ajax legends of the 1970s.
He has no time for players who feel they have fulfilled their destiny and will stare deep into the eyes of each of his charges on Sunday to make sure they still have the same thirst for success as him.
"Soon I will look into the eyes of my players to make sure they have retained the hunger they need to succeed," Ferguson said.
"If success has gone to anyone's head and they show signs they are ready to rest on their laurels, they will soon be on their way."
With fierce competitors like Gary Neville, set to make his first start since March 2007, and Paul Scholes, Carlos Tevez and Nemanja Vidic in his line-up, the Scot expects to finish his assessment with an overwhelmingly positive verdict.
"At this particular time, we are not in the best position fitness-wise but it doesn't concern me unduly," Ferguson said.
"There is a great quality in the squad and a great enthusiasm. A lot of them are exhilarated by winning the European Cup."
Ferguson will need every warrior he can find as he heads into the season without his two creative dynamos.
Cristiano Ronaldo's return to United's training ground on Friday signalled the end of his attempt to engineer a move to Real, but the Portugal winger will be sidelined for several weeks after ankle surgery.
Wayne Rooney contracted an illness on United's recent trip to Nigeria that will keep him out of action, while Owen Hargreaves, Louis Saha, Anderson and Nani are all ruled out.
The absence of so many stars could allow Ferguson to hand debuts to Brazilian prodigies Rafael and Fabio Da Silva and Rodrigo Possedon.
United have already beaten Portsmouth once this pre-season but John Utaka believes Sunday's encounter will be a far more high-tempo match than United's 2-1 win in Nigeria.
"It doesn't matter that Manchester United beat us in the last match, they are different games, they need different approaches," Nigerian midfielder Utaka said.
"This will be nothing like that game. Things are different now and we have the chance to win.
"We've had good preparation for the pre-season and now we really want to win this first match at Wembley.
"Of course we will approach this game very differently to Nigeria. We have to be a lot more committed, we have to play and work hard and make sure we do our best.
"They are a very good side, but I believed we would win the FA Cup. If I didn't believe I would not play football, you cannot just give up."
French midfielder Lassana Diarra is a doubt for Portmsouth and, with FA Cup final match-winner Nwankwo Kanu also set to miss out, Peter Crouch should partner fellow England international Jermain Defoe in attack.
Crouch, an 11-million-pounds (21-million-dollars) signing from Liverpool last month, is determined to mark his first significant appearance for his new club with a repeat of his 2006 Community Shield winner against Chelsea.
"I have great memories of that day, scoring the winner against Chelsea, I'm really looking forward to Sunday," Crouch said. "It's a fantastic occasion, like a cup final."
|Ligue 1 Wrap: Saint-Etienne leapfrog Nantes, Reims hammer Ajaccio|
|Primeira Liga Wrap: Sporting miss chance, Vitoria Guimaraes win|
|Serie A Wrap: Napoli held, Udinese win|
|Eredivisie Wrap: Vitesse miss chance to extend lead|
|FIFA Club World Cup: Bayern Munich 2 Raja Casablanca 0|
|Scottish Premiership Wrap: Celtic extend lead as Inverness slip up|
|Bundesliga Wrap: Dortmund, Leverkusen both beaten|
|League One Wrap: Brentford take advantage as top two stutter|
|League Two Wrap: Boothroyd sacked as Northampton lose, Oxford held|
|Downing delights in late leveller|
|Hughes happy with Adam impact|
|Meulensteen: Fulham need to turn performances into points|
|Lambert upbeat despite defeat|
|Bruce vents frustration|
|Hughton backs referee over Brown decision|
|Poyet worried that time is running out for Sunderland|
|Allardyce bemoans defensive errors against United|
|Pulis hopes Palace learn lessons|
|Pellegrini praises Navas and Milner impact|
|Pardew praises ´dream-like´ Newcastle victory|
|Championship Wrap: Leicester defeat QPR, Burnley go top|
|We must rebuild, says Klopp|
|Moyes defends Januzaj dive|
|Premier League Preview: Arsenal v Chelsea|
|Premier League: West Brom 1 Hull City 1|
|Premier League: Sunderland 0 Norwich City 0|
|Premier League: Crystal Palace 0 Newcastle United 3|
|Premier League: Stoke City 2 Aston Villa 1|
|Premier League: Manchester United 3 West Ham 1|
|Premier League: Fulham 2 Manchester City 4|
|Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund 1 Hertha Berlin 2|
|Martino happy at Barcelona|
|Ancelotti restates desire to keep Alonso|
|Rodgers lauds Suarez|
|Mackay: I´m going nowhere|
|Premier League: Liverpool 3 Cardiff City 1|
|Walker expects ´difficult´ Southampton test|
|Acerbi suffers cancer relapse|
|A-League: Melbourne Heart 1 Melbourne Victory 3|
|De Boer dismisses Spurs link|
|Mourinho: It´s not me against Wenger|
|Pellegrini targets trophies|
|Conte would welcome Italy opportunity|
|Lahm calls for Bayern focus|
|Bale: I am under less pressure at Real|
|Ranieri laments missed opportunities|
|Moyes confirms Fellaini back scan plan|
|Bayern Munich will respect Raja Casablanca, says Guardiola|
|Yeboah signs for Monchengladbach|
|Proud Benitez demands focus|
|Serie A Preview: Atalanta v Juventus|
|Primeira Liga Wrap: Porto, Benfica victorious|
|Football League Wrap: Tranmere defeated, Chesterfield move top of League Two|
|Serie A Preview: Inter v Milan|
|Bundesliga: Frankfurt 1 Augsburg 1|
|Ligue 1: Monaco 1 Valenciennes 2|
|La Liga: Elche 0 Malaga 1|
|Eredivisie: RKC Waalwijk 1 Twente 1|
|La Liga Preview: Getafe v Barcelona|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Paris Saint-Germain v Lille|
|UAE Pro League Wrap: Al Ahli extend lead, Al Shaab earn rare win|
|Lambert seeks more Villa away success|
|Sunderland will have ´no excuses´ for Norwich failure, says Poyet|
|Hughton hails Poyet impact|
|Pardew anticipating difficult Palace clash|
|UEFA provisionally ban three clubs from European competition|
|La Liga Preview: Valencia v Real Madrid|
|Valdes to keep new club quiet|
|Allardyce urges West Ham to expose United frailties|
|Bruce bemoans Brady injury|
|Laudrup rules out Tottenham switch|
|Premier League Preview: Swansea City v Everton|
|Benitez is ´a lucky charm´, says De Laurentiis|
|Stoke wait on Shawcross fitness|
|Koscielny to miss out on Chelsea clash|
|Liverpool owner hails Suarez deal as sign of club´s progress|
|Moyes reveals Nani setback|
|Schweinsteiger to return in January|
|Thohir not worried ahead of derby|
|Mourinho eyes defensive improvements|
|Pellegrini optimistic on Zabaleta return|
|Gourcuff reveals contract refusal|
|Suarez pens new long-term Liverpool deal|
|Klopp predicts tough Hertha battle|
|Dempsey has medical ahead of Fulham return|
|Bruce sympathetic to Mackay situation|
|A-League: Brisbane Roar 0 Newcastle Jets 2|
|Celtic´s Lustig set to miss four months|
|Messi blasts Barca official|
|Redknapp slams Villas-Boas´ signings|
|Atalanta out to continue home record|
|Phillips poised for January Palace exit|
|Dembele: Spurs ´positive´ about Sherwood appointment|
|Benitez predicts busy January at Napoli|
|Kerslake expects Mackay to be in charge for Liverpool game|
|Lowe given Glory role|
|Baines set for Everton return|
|Pedro keen on emulating Iniesta|
|Pochettino not interested in January purchases|
|Poyet calls for mid-season break|
|Iajour up for Bayern test|
|Martinez seeking ´short-term solutions´ in transfer window|
|Kompany urges City to remain focused|
|Rodgers glad he avoided Tottenham|
|Del Piero in line to take on Juventus in Australia|