West Brom have announced that Spanish boss Pepe Mel is their new head coach.
The former-Real Betis boss comes in as a replacement for Steve Clarke, who was sacked in December and has signed an 18 month deal with the club.
West Brom’s technical director Richard Garlick told the clubs official website: “I’m delighted to welcome Pepe to the club.
“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. Pepe was a strong contender from the outset due to his impressive achievements and has emerged as our number one candidate.
“He is a forward thinking coach whose teams are renowned for playing an attractive and positive style of football.”
Mel does have a reputation for playing attacking football and likes his team to press high up the pitch, which now seems to be the order of the day in modern football. He recently enjoyed success with Real Betis, helping the club from Andalucía win promotion to La Liga, before guiding them to seventh place in the Spanish top-flight last season.
However, the 50-year-old was sacked in December after Betis went on a bad run of results in La Liga. His sacking led to an almost immediate link to the Baggies, whose owners seem to believe that the former-Rayo Vallecano boss is the right man for the job.
As stated earlier Mel sets his teams up to attack and his West Brom team is unlikely to be any different. The Spaniard’s style is likely to be far different from the more cautious Clarke’s though.
The Scot brought stability last season, but the Baggies have struggled this season and are currently just four points off the relegation zone in 14th position in the Premier League, after finishing 8th last season.
There currently seems to be a wave of cynicism amongst West Brom fans about the appointment of the Spaniard. The Spaniard will have to overcome the language barrier and cultural differences to become a success at the Hawthorns, which a large number of Baggies seem to believe he will struggle with.
He is also considered the ‘cheap’ option by Baggies fans, because there is no compensation to be paid and is unlikely to be on mega wages. It does not seem like Mel is a popular appointment amongst the West Brom faithful.
The Baggies have to remember though their board and owners have not been bad at choosing managers in recent years. The likes of Roberto Di Matteo, Roy Hodgson and even Steve Clarke himself have not done terrible jobs at the club.
The appointment is a gamble and could turn out badly, but yet again it could be a masterstroke. Southampton is a good example of a boss coming in from Spanish football and the fans not wanting him at their club.
Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino has been a resounding success at St Marys with his positive style of play and the fact that the Saints are so exciting to watch. Pepe Mel has a similar sort of football philosophy to that of the Argentinian.
I bet Baggies fans would not be moaning if Mel’s appointment had a similar effect on the Baggies team as Pochettino’s had on the Southampton team. The West Brom fans will just have to trust the judgement of the clubs owners and get behind the team.
West Brom has a decent squad of players for Mel to work with. The Baggies should be higher up the table than they are, but it is difficult to gauge where the club is at. West Brom are now regarded as a good solid midtable Premier League club.
However, it is hard to see the Baggies ever challenging for the Champions League or the Premier League title. I just wonder what the Baggies fans long-term expectations are of their club. I suppose in the short-term moving away from the relegation zone, but after that who knows?
Despite the cynicism towards his appointment, I think that Pepe Mel may turn out to be a very shrewd choice for the Baggies. The Spaniard may have had his ups and downs in recent years, but he knows how to get a team to play good attractive football, something that Baggies fans have appreciated down the years.
With players like Stephane Sessegnon and Morgan Amalfitano in his squad, his style of play may just work out at the Hawthorns, if not I really cannot see the Baggies getting dragged into the relegation zone. My message to West Brom fans is at least give Mel a chance, who knows he may just surprise you.
Is Pepe Mel the right man to move West Brom forward?