West Brom perform shock u-turn and appoint Pepe Melby Jack Kitson / 10 January 2014, 09:43Tweet
After an exhausting and equally frustrating search for a new head coach West Brom have finally found their man in Pepe Mel. The Baggies have handed the Spaniard an 18-month contract, with the former Real Betis boss beating off competition from the likes of Quique Flores, Thomas Schaaf and Dave Jones to land the job at the Hawthorns.
The decision to appoint Mel represents a shock u-turn as negotiations between the two parties had previously collapsed back in December after the 50-year-old had requested to bring his own backroom staff with him. However, following fresh talks the situation has now been resolved; with Mel set to join forces with head coach Keith Downing and goalkeeper coach Dean Kiely.
Mel brings with him 14 years worth of experience of managing in Spain - having worked for nine different clubs in that time frame - although it is worth mentioning that he has never managed outside of the country. His most recent job came at Real Betis with whom he instantly led to La Liga in 2011, and then an impressive 7th place finish last season. However, in what will no doubt be a concern for Baggies fans, he was sacked by Betis last month with the struggling club rock-bottom of the table after a dreadful run.
Mel takes charge of a side that have regained both form and confidence under caretaker boss Keith Downing. The 48-year-old has steadied the ship after four consecutive defeats under former boss Steve Clarke by guiding the Midlands club to three draws and a win since he was placed in charge of the first-team. Mel will be in the stands for Albion's game at Southampton on Saturday - Downing will remain in charge - meaning his first match in the dugout will be at home to Everton on 20th January, which is followed by fixtures against Aston Villa, Liverpool, Crystal Palace, and Chelsea.