The next three months are going to determine the fate of 26-time Maltese champions Sliema Wanderers. The Blues are currently embroiled in a tough relegation battle which sees them anchored at the bottom of the Premier League.
Nonetheless, back-to-back victories against Balzan and Sirens have helped them pick up six points and reach the 10-point tally which puts them back into contention to avoid relegation.
Led by coach Andrea Pisanu, Sliema are now trailing third-bottom Mosta by just five points as they look to rescue their top-flight status.
The last time the Wanderers were relegated was back in the 1982-83 season and Pisanu’s team are looking to stretch their run as a Premier League team for more years.
Yet, Sliema have already managed to achieve their primary goal for the season according to club president Keith Perry.
“Heading into the 2021-22 campaign, we had two objectives to achieve,” Perry told a news conference.
“Our first goal was to rescue the club and that is why I returned back to the club together with 15 committee members back in June.
“We were aware of the difficulty of our task but I am proud to say that our collective effort was enough to keep this glorious club alive.”
Perry heaped praise on the committee members that worked tirelessly to help meet the club’s demands. He explained that during the Annual General Meeting, the supporters were anxious about the future of the club and that triggered their commitment towards turning the tide at Sliema Wanderers.
“We knew that the first six months of the season were going to be very difficult, but we never gave up,” Perry explained.
“Thankfully, we are now in a position to announce that every person engaged at the club – from players to staff – have been paid all their salaries until now and we have already our budget in place for the next three years.”
Sliema’s players recruitment started in August when they announced the return of Italian coach Pisanu and as soon as the budget was approved, the Blues started to bring in numerous players to assemble the squad.
Perry pointed out that although they knew that the first part of the championship was going to be very difficult for them, they remained confident that they could make amends in the second part – something that is already in making after the six points registered in the last two league outings.
“Our football aims are clear – remain in the top-flight and win the FA Trophy,” Perry underlined.
“At the same time, we remain committed in working and nurturing our youths as our A-licensed Nursery now can count on over 350 children.”
Perry explained that he is pleased with the work that coach Pisanu has done so far and is upbeat about the input that the winter signings can give to Sliema’s cause.
“The eight players that we managed to bring over the winter transfer window was the fruition of a thorough work that started back in October as we started to see how we could make our squad more competitive,” the club president said.
The new signings include defender Oscar Bethancourt – in his second spell at the club, former Floriana and Valletta player Matteo Piciollo, highly-rated Jamaican winger Martin Davis and Maltese goalkeeper Rashed Al-Tumi.
Sliema’s upcoming league task pits them against leaders Hibernians while Challenge League side Vittoriosa Stars are their opponents in the domestic cup.
“Every match is important as we have to recover a lot of points if we want to stay up,” coach Pisanu said.
“We started January on a bright note and we are confident that we can maintain this consistency in order to produce more positive results.
“Also, as the president said, the FA Trophy is very important for Sliema and winning it is one of our objectives.”