Mel content after overdue home win
Published 27/04/2014 | 07:07
West Brom boss Pepe Mel feels his side are "pretty much safe" after their 1-0 victory over West Ham at The Hawthorns.
Saido Berahino's close-range 11th-minute strike steered Albion to a precious three points that put them on 36, five clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, with three games left to play.
It was a particularly special win for Mel given it was his first on home turf since his appointment as Baggies head coach in January.
West Brom had fallen just short in their last two fixtures at the stadium, ending up drawing 3-3 against both Cardiff and Tottenham due to the concession of stoppage-time equalisers.
And asked after this contest if he was feeling relieved, the Spaniard said: "Yes, particularly because in the last two games here we really did deserve to be talking about a victory, and that wasn't the case."
When then asked if his team were safe, Mel, who had predicted before the encounter that his team would require 37 points for survival, said: "No - there are nine points still to play for and we need to try to get three more."
But he then added: "This is a very difficult job and there have been many difficult situations.
"But together we have been able to overcome these problems, and today we find ourselves with West Brom pretty much safe."
Mel has had plenty to contend with during his tenure so far, including doubts over his future in the job, the Nicolas Anelka 'quenelle' saga and a bust-up between West Brom players.
The latter occurred after the 3-3 draw with Cardiff, in which Berahino giving the ball away late on led to the visitors' leveller. The striker was subsequently involved in an altercation with team-mate James Morrison in the dressing room.
Berahino has also been in the news recently after he was filmed inhaling nitrous oxide, something for which he later apologised.
Albion's top-scorer made headlines for the right reasons on this occasion by slotting in from Morgan Amalfitano's cross, registering his ninth Baggies goal of the season in what was his first start in eight matches.
And regarding the England Under-21 international, Mel said: "Yesterday I spoke at great length with Berahino and he knew he was going to play today.
"I think he is a player with an awful lot of talent and a great future ahead of him.
"The only thing he needed was to work and to think about the group and the team. Today, he has done so therefore I am extremely happy. I am extremely satisfied also because it was a personal gamble."
Asked if Berahino had learned from his mistakes and if his team-mates had forgiven him, Mel added: "Yes - it was a long time ago and now it has been totally forgotten.
"But if against Cardiff and Tottenham we had done what we did today - taken the ball into the corner (in the closing stages) - we would have four points more."
While the West Brom faithful roared their team on enthusiastically throughout the game, there was more disgruntlement among West Ham supporters as they witnessed the east London outfit's fourth straight defeat.
Not for the first time, Hammers manager Sam Allardyce found himself the target of abuse from some of the club's fans, with boos and chants being hurled at him from the away section and a banner being unfurled within it which displayed the message "Fat Sam out, killing WHU".
Allardyce, whose side are one spot above 15th-placed West Brom and a point better off but have only two games left, said afterwards: "I have been pleased with the performances overall of the players - with the creativity.
"But at the end of the day, that is no good to anybody whatsoever without results and again we haven't got one, so you are bound to get criticised - me more than anyone else, because I am the manager and I'm responsible for it.
"You don't want it (the abuse), do you? You don't want to stand there and get abused in any way, shape or form.
"But it is something you are aware of, and you know what changes it around - the players going out on the pitch and winning.
"So until the players go and do that for themselves, me and then the fans, the criticism is going to continue being thrown at me, and I accept that criticism because it is my responsibility.
"Fans show their disapproval and they are quite entitled to. I don't have a problem with that at all - well, I do have a problem with it, but I understand why they show their frustration."
Asked if he wanted to stay at the club and win the fans over, Allardyce said: "I'm contracted to West Ham United - until such time that the owners tell me something different, that is exactly what I am.
"I wake up every day, come into work and do the very best I possibly can for West Ham, for the players, for myself, for the owners, and for my family."
Allardyce also lamented the way his side had failed to make the most of their goalscoring chances, the closest of which saw Andy Carroll head against the bar.
The manager said: "When opportunities arise and when you create them, you must take them in this very demanding league, which will not allow you to miss as many as we did today.
"Until we start converting these chances we are creating, we are going to struggle to win a game."
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