West Bromwich Albion have confirmed Pepe Mel has succeeded Steve Clarke as their new head coach, handing him an 18 month contract.
Clarke was controversially sacked by the Baggies in December after a poor run of results, and the club have since taken their time to find a replacement. Mel was installed as favourite at an early stage, but a host of other coaches, including Martin Jol and Thomas Schaaf, were said to be strong candidates for the position.
However, Albion have decided that the Spaniard is the right man to take the club forward, after he impressed at Real Betis last season. The 50-year-old led the Verdiblancos to a seventh-place finish in La Liga, which secured qualification for the UEFA Europa League. And he will now get the chance to prove his quality in the Premier League.
Sporting & Technical Director, Richard Garlick, told the official club 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.
“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, who was sacked by Betis last month after a 4-0 derby defeat to Sevilla and conceding a last minute equaliser at home to Rayo Vallecano, will be assisted at the Hawthorns by Keith Downing, who has been in charge of the first team on a caretaker basis for the past five games. Although Albion head to Southampton on Saturday afternoon, the Madrid-born coach will be at the helm for the first time when Everton visit on Monday week.