New Wanderers coach relishing the challenge
The new Premier League season has brought about a mini revolution in terms of coaching changes in the top flight this summer.
In fact, almost half of the 12 teams in competition have a new man at the helm and that includes the championship’s sleeping giants Sliema Wanderers.
After another below-par season in 2011-12, the Sliema hierarchy parted ways with Danilo Doncic and immediately handed the team to Clive Mizzi.
However, Mizzi’s stay at the Blues lasted no longer than eight weeks as earlier this month the former Mqabba coach stepped down from his job, citing differences with the club over strategies adopted.
The Wanderers, who won the last of their 26 league titles in 2005, have just been boosted by the involvement of an Italian investor. They moved quickly to name Mizzi’s replacement and handed the job to former Lazio and Cagliari midfielder Alfonso Greco.
Greco, who ended his playing career in 2004, has spent the recent years coaching in the Italian lower leagues with Nuova Tor Tre Teste, a club which is situated in Rome and with whom he won the U-18 championship in 2008.
Greco, 43, is relishing his new challenge here having just made his first official showing on the Sliema bench in an Old Firm clash against Floriana on Saturday.
“This is my first experience outside Italy so I want to make the most of it,” Greco told The Times.
“When the offer came, I felt it was the right time for me to move. Although I have little knowledge of the game here, the people at Sliema Wanderers made me feel at home straightaway.
“I’m aware that this club boast a glorious history in Maltese football and although these are still early days, our long-term project should be to put the team among the best again.”
In his first appearance, Greco led the Blues to a 1-1 draw against Floriana.
He sounded pleased with Sliema’s display even though he admitted there was still more work to be done before the Blues start to perform to the maximum of their ability.
“I was quite pleased with how the team played against Floriana,” Greco said.
“Our first half was very good and I think we deserved to go in for the interval in front. But then, the team suffered a dip in form.
“It could be that at the moment not all of our players are 100 per cent in physical condition levels.
“But this team has potential. In my opinion, the Sliema squad is strong enough to compete but only through sheer hard work and determination can we win our matches.”
Like all football clubs, Sliema will be on the look-out these last few days of the transfer window to see whether any late additions could be made if the right deal comes along.
Greco is keeping close contact with president Keith Perry on this issue but doubts there will be other signings before August 31.
“So far, there’s no decision yet on new players,” Greco said.
“As I’ve said, the squad is really doing well in training so I’m very happy with what I’ve seen so far. Obviously, if the opportunity comes I will discuss the matter with the club president.
“I’ve only been here a few weeks but I’m sure that with the players we have Sliema are in for a very satisfying season.”
Premier League statistics
Scorers, red cards
Balzan FC: Mendy, Pedrinho.
Red card: Conceicao (vs Ħamrun).
Birkirkara: Joselito 2, Shodiya (pen), Jhonnattan.
Ħamrun Spartans: Grima, Scerri.
Hibernians: Dias 2, Pisani.
Mosta: Bajada, Mitev.
Rabat Ajax: None.
Sliema Wanderers: Woods.
Tarxien Rainbows: None.
Friday (Hibs Stadium)
18.30 Tarxien vs Sliema.
20.30 Ħamrun vs Floriana
Saturday (National Stadium)
18.30 Melita vs Rabat
20.30 Qormi vs Hibernians
Sunday (National Stadium)
18.30 Mosta vs Valletta
20.30 Balzan vs Birkirkara