West Bromwich Albion name Pepe Mel as new Head Coach

West Bromwich Albion have confirmed the appointment of Pepe Mel, the former Real Betis manager, on an 18-month contract.

Pepe Mel has been named as the new Head Coach of West Bromwich Albion, signing an 18-month contract with the Midlands club, the BBC have confirmed.

Mel, 50, joins the Baggies having managed La Liga side Real Betis earlier this season.

He joins the club almost four weeks after the sacking of former boss Steve Clarke, who was relieved of his services after four straight defeats, that culminated in a 1-0 loss against new-boys Cardiff City.

Pepe Mel joined Real Betis in 2010, having previously managed a host of Spanish clubs, including Rayo Vallecano, Alaves and Getafe.

Following his arrival in Betis, Mel succeeded in leading the Verdiblancos to promotion from the Segunda Division in their first season under his management. The club had been relegated at the end of the 2008/09 La Liga campaign, finishing in 18th place. It was following relegation that Mel was appointed.

Los Beticos finished their first Segunda Division campaign under Mel as champions, winning the league by a four-point margin. It was under Mel that the team began to pick up a reputation for playing attractive and attacking football.

Having been promoted, Real Betis begun the next campaign with four wins from their first four games, finishing the season comfortably clear of relegation in 13th place.

Mel's third season signalled further improvement, as the club climbed to 7th place, meaning that the club would compete in European competition for the first time since the 2005/06 season.

However, Mel was sacked after a heavy defeat to fierce rivals Sevilla earlier this season, with the club rock-bottom of La Liga.

He joins Albion with the club in 14th position and four points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.

He will travel to St. Mary's Stadium this weekend, where he will watch from the stands as his new side take on a Southampton side managed by Mauricio Pochettino, who Mel faced during his time in Spain.

Keith Downing, as he has done in recent weeks, will be in temporary charge.

Pepe Mel's first game as manager of West Bromwich Albion will be the televised visit of Roberto Martinez's high-flying Everton, at the Hawthorns on Monday the 20th of January.

Keith Downing will remain at the club, assisting Mel, who coaches in England for the first time with a limited understanding of the English language. 

West Bromwich Albion's technical director, Richard Garlick, said:

"His appointment concludes an extensive recruitment process during which we have cast the net far and wide to identify the most suitable candidate to take the Club forward."

Two points from six games could quite easily have been eight or nine, and Steve Clarke’s WBA would have been comfortably in the top 10, ahead of the likes of Steve Bruce and Michael Laudrup who have both received their fair amount of praise over the last few months.

Yet, it wasn’t to be, and Clarke’s sacking goes to show how fine lines in the Premier League can make such a difference.

WBA, on the look-out for a new boss, have obviously looked at the Southampton and Swansea City model and decided to take a similar route. Appointing a manager with vast experience of a foreign league, especially one with financial difficulties, could be a goldmine for owners – little investment could provide huge returns – an example being Swansea City’s £15m-plus rated Spanish striker Michu.

The three names on WBA’s wish-list are all current unemployed Spanish coaches with experience in Spain’s top flight. But who are they?

Pepe Mel

The 50-year-old coach was the recent manager of Sevilla-based side Real Betis. Joining the Verdiblancos in 2010 whilst in the Second Division, Pepe Mel guided his side into the top flight at the first time of asking.

During the 2012/13 season, Betis finished 7th and secured a place in this year’s Europa league. Like many sides before them, juggling European football with domestic football with a small squad seemed to be their downfall, and Betis found themselves down near the bottom of La Liga.

A heavy 4-0 loss to rivals Sevilla seemed to be the final straw and Mel was rather harshly dismissed. The Madrid-born manager had been made the early favourite for the Baggies’ managerial vacancy, however

"He is a forward thinking coach whose teams are renowned for playing an attractive and positive style of football."

image: © stadiumguide

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