Michael Carrick has predicted great times lie ahead for Manchester United this season.
After collecting a Premier League winners' medal in his first season at Old Trafford, Carrick started off the new campaign in the best manner possible at Wembley yesterday, tucking home one of the penalties which saw United complete a spot-kick win over Chelsea to clinch the Community Shield.
Although it should be nothing more than an afterthought in the season as a whole, the victory proves United are in good spirits seven days before they start the defence of their Premier League title.
With Owen Hargreaves, Anderson and imminent signing Carlos Tevez yet to make a meaningful contribution and a host of star names due to return from injury, Carrick believes United have every reason to be optimistic.
'We have a fantastic squad with a lot of options in attacking areas,' said Carrick.
'If we can have a solid base and defend really well, we will always create chances and score a lot of goals.
'We know Chelsea have a very strong squad as well. It is going to be nip and tuck between us throughout the season and, if anything, it will be a bigger challenge for us than before because everyone else has improved. But hopefully, great times lie ahead for us.'
In a closely-contested encounter, marginally better than May's awful FA Cup final, skipper Ryan Giggs put United ahead before new-boy Florent Malouda converted a neat leveller for Chelsea just before the break.
Edwin van der Sar proved United's shoot-out hero, saving all three Blues penalties, allowing Wayne Rooney to complete victory after Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick had also scored.
Ferguson's squad will get one more run out before Reading head to Old Trafford next Sunday, with half his players heading across the Irish Sea to Glentoran, while the rest travel north to their manager's former club Dunfermline.
Providing there are no further complications with Tevez's arrival and his registration is completed with the Premier League either tomorrow or Wednesday as planned, the 23-year-old will be in one of the travelling parties.
Ferguson has not revealed which one but if Tevez produces an effective performance, he will be involved against Steve Coppell's men next weekend.
'Carlos has shown he can be one of the top strikers in the world,' said Ferguson.
'The boy has got something exceptional in him. He trained with us on Friday and Saturday and I was surprised how well he did. He looked quite sharp.
'It would be nice to think I could have him available for the Reading game but if not then I am sure about the following week.'
Before then, Ferguson must deal with the thorny issue of Gabriel Heinze.
The full-back is apparently set on a move to Liverpool, something the United camp refuse to countenance.
Heinze is due back in training today when it is expected he will have talks with Ferguson to try and resolve the dispute.
'I hope he turns up,' said Ferguson. 'He has been instructed to.'