Ben Foster has hit back at suggestions Pepe Mel could be sacked by West Bromwich Albion, and has backed the Spaniard to lead the club to safety.
Since being appointed as Steve Clarke’s successor in January, Mel has failed to register a single victory with the Premier League strugglers. Their latest setback came on Saturday afternoon, when Manchester United eased to a 3-0 win at the Hawthorns, a loss which leaves the Baggies out of the relegation zone only on goal difference.
This has led to speculation that the club could sack the former Real Betis coach before the end of the season, in a bid to boost the squad and avoid relegation. However, Foster thinks such a move would be costly, particularly as the England international goalkeeper believes the 51-year-old will soon lead Albion up the table and to safety.
“It’s incredible isn’t it?” said Foster. “But that’s the way the game has gone. It’s gone mad, completely crazy. It seems now that every new manager that comes in – unless they start winning straight away – is going to be in trouble. The players don’t pay any attention to the speculation about Pepe. I really like him, I think most of the guys do. I’m still confident we will be all right. We’ve got lads who are prepared to roll their sleeves up.”
Mel has now been in charge of West Brom for seven top-flight fixtures, of which three have been lost and four drawn. They now face back-to-back away matches against Swansea City and Hull City, before the end the calendar month with the visit of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Cardiff City, who are currently third-bottom and on the same number of points.
Speaking after the defeat to United, Mel admitted he was unsure if the board would stick by him, and he also underlined the importance of the coming fixtures: “I don’t know that (if I will be replaced), it doesn’t depend on me. The next four games are very, very important for the club, starting with Swansea, and we have to recuperate the team.”