ROBIN VAN PERSIE is certain that Manchester United are clear favourites to keep the English Premier League title this season after his two goals won the Community Shield yesterday.
The champions beat Wigan 2-0 at Wembley to secure David Moyes' first trophy as a senior manager after a rocky pre-season campaign.
No major signings and speculation over the future of Wayne Rooney has led to an unsettled summer at Old Trafford but Van Persie is confident United will be in the hunt for silverware come the end of the season.
"We're doing really well and I believe in this team," he said. "We are the champions and based on that we are clear favourites.
"I believe in this team and I believe that we will compete until the end again."
More than 80,000 fans flocked from Lancashire to London and the Dutchman was pleased to get on the scoresheet via a spectacular header and a second-half deflection.
"It's always nice to score, especially at Wembley," he said. "It's a great day for the fans, for us and for the manager as well. All of us.
"One day, one game and we've won a trophy so it's good. I'm really glad for everyone."
He added: "Last year I scored a couple of headers, not too many so I have to improve on that. I think it went in quite nice."
Ryan Giggs was quick to praise Van Persie's performance and knows the former Arsenal man will be a key player in the coming months.
"The first goal's a brilliant goal," he said. "It just went over my head and the timing was brilliant and it was a great start for us. We hope Robin can produce the form that he showed last year."
The Red Devils claimed just two wins in pre-season before yesterday, conceding 13 goals in seven games, and Giggs was pleased with the solidity on display against the Latics.
"It was a very professional performance," he said. "We were a bit disappointed pre-season, letting a few goals in, so the main objective was to get a clean sheet. We wanted to do that as a team. Work hard, get behind the ball and I think we did that."
He added: "We just know we've got good players in the team.
"It's always hard when you're champions, you've got to reproduce the form that you showed last year and I hope we do that."
Wigan never seriously threatened United, whose goalkeeper David de Gea did not have to make a single save.
"We've done the job, kept a clean sheet and I'm pleased although we could have made better use of our possession," Moyes said.
Moyes was delighted with the contribution of Van Persie, who had scored after five minutes with a towering header and then grabbed another in the second half when his shot ricocheted off Wigan's James Perch and spun past goalkeeper Scott Carson.
Moyes said: "It was a great header, 16 yards on the angle into the side-netting. I've been really impressed with Robin.
"He's been easy to work with. He's been really receptive and helpful. We tried to manage him at the right times by playing him for some minutes and not (for others). He's so important we have to look after him at the right times. Today he came up with the goods again with his goals."
Van Persie said the United players were determined to win for Moyes.
"We wanted to win for the manager – it's important for him and the staff to win trophies," Van Persie said.
Moyes, however, was reluctant to take praise for the trophy. He said: "I class that as another piece of silverware for Alex (Ferguson) really.
"It was his team that won the Premier League last season so I see today as for Alex. The ones going forward will be down to me."
Now the international break fills the gap before Saturday's opener at Swansea, which is followed by matches against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.
Captain Nemanja Vidic was also optimistic for the season ahead after the game.
"It's good to feel from the first day how it is to win a trophy with Man United," Vidic said.
"I remember the first time I lifted a trophy with Man United. I was really excited.
"We're looking forward to this season. We always want to improve, we always want to win trophies."