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Sliema’s bright start down to collective effort, says striker Farrugia

Sliema striker Jean Paul Farrugia netted seven goals for the Blues so far this season. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Jean Paul Farrugia believes that Sliema Wanderers’ excellent start to the 2020-21 Premier League season is all down to a new mindset that coach Andrea Pisanu has managed to instill in his players this season.

On Sunday, the Wanderers further underlined their renaissance when they brushed aside Balzan 3-1 at the Centenary Stadium to join Hibernians at the top of the Premier League standings on 16 points after seven matches played.

Their performances are surely a far cry from last term which had seen the Blues battling relegation before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived to bring a definite halt to the football season.

“One major factor for us this season is that there is no pressure on the players to achieve an objective,” Farrugia told The Times of Malta.

“The focus at our club is on building a strong bond between every member of the first team and   improving the team’s performances and not much on what the other teams are doing.

“Irrespective of the team that we are facing, our working plan remains always the same to try and bring the best out of the group of players that we have in harmony. 

“The last time I experienced a similar mindset was during my time at Hibs and in that spell it worked wonders as we had managed to win a lot of trophies.

“Personally, I believe that we have still ample room for improvement. I’m sure that there are still many areas where we can be better and even on a personal level, I think I can give much more to the team and that is very positive.”

Sliema’s bright start to the season takes further significance when one considers that this summer the Blues have been one of the busiest sides in the transfer market.

In fact, the club have a new set of overseas players and one expected coach Pisanu to need much more time to ensure his team starts functioning efficiently.

“It’s true, maybe we have defied expectations,” the former Chiasso striker said.

“To be honest, the biggest changes came from our overseas players.

“But luckily, here at Sliema there is a nucleus of Maltese players who have settled down nicely so it’s just a question of helping others fit into the system quickly, something which we have done well so far.

“But as I said, the merit of all this is not only of the players and the technical staff but also the club’s administration who have provided us with the resources to settle down well.”

Scoring form

For Farrugia, the 2020-21 season has been very positive for him so far as his brace against Balzan on Sunday increased his tally to seven nettings in as many appearances so far.

His excellent form of late has inevitably attracted the attentions of national coach Devis Mangia who has included the forward in his provisional squad for the national team’s commitments this month, a friendly against Liechtenstein and a UEFA Nations League double header against Andorra and the Faroe Islands.

“I am very happy with my form,” Farrugia said.

“Obviously, the fact that I’m working in a serene atmosphere has surely helped me to start the season well. But it’s not all down to me, football is a team sport and you cannot score goals without the help of my team-mates so credit must go to them as well.

“Now I am looking forward to form part of the national team and try and give the best possible contribution. I already have an idea of the philosophy coach Devis Mangia wants to instil in the team after taking part in a ten-day training camp this summer.

“The goal has always been for me to establish myself in the national team and I will do everything in my power to ensure that I give everything for the team and help them achieve the results we are targeting.”

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