Sunday 23 November 2014

Mel takes novel approach

Published 19/01/2014 | 13:57

Pepe Mel takes charge of West Brom for the first time on Monday night
Pepe Mel takes charge of West Brom for the first time on Monday night

New West Brom head coach and part-time novelist Pepe Mel is hoping to write his own happy ending at the club.

Mel faces his first match in charge of the Baggies on Monday night as he welcomes fellow Spaniard Roberto Martinez and his Champions League-chasing Everton side to the Hawthorns.

In his first appointment outside of Spain after spells in charge of Tenerife, Alaves, Rayo Vallecano and Real Betis, Mel faces a steep learning curve to adapt to the Barclays Premier League.

The hope is Mel will first ensure Albion retain their top-flight status this season before making his mark and pushing for European football next campaign.

As a part-time thriller writer, with two published books entitled 'Liar' and 'The Road to the Afterlife', Mel's initial 18 months at Albion's helm promise to have just as many twists and turns as one of his novels.

"Writing is something that helps me clear my mind," said Mel.

"I don't play golf or anything like that. It's something that helps me to be positive."

Asked as to whether his books have happy endings, Mel replied: "It depends on how you interpret them.

"I'm sure the third book I write, which will be here in England, will do so."

Mel is certainly a confident, engaging character, which he hopes will rub off on his players, who appear to have taken to their new gaffer in the early stages according to comments from several so far.

Mel would like to believe that from the off against Everton the fans will see a new-look Albion.

"West Brom need to have an aggressive approach, to create more goalscoring opportunities," said Mel.

"The players have so far shown an awful lot of desire to adapt to my style. They have been very positive.

"And I've not come here to impose any kind of a Spanish model, it's more about looking to improve.

"The most important thing is the players want to do it, that they show hunger to adapt to my style.

"It's still early, but against Everton I believe the fans will see something that will be noticeable."

Although only handed an initial 18-month contract by Albion, Mel is already thinking long term and beyond next season.

"I'm someone who really does like challenges, and to achieve things you really need to work very hard," added Mel.

"I hope that in the future, many years from now when I leave here, that West Brom will also be in my heart, like Betis."

Even displaying a sense of humour, Mel quipped: "In a few years' time - when we're all here speaking in English - I hope you'll be in agreement I've done a really good job."

Although at home, Mel's opening task is far from an easy one as the Baggies face an Everton side who have lost just one of their last 14 league matches stretching back to early October.

Mel has been highly impressed with the job done by Martinez, but has told his players they have no need to be in awe.

Mel, whose Betis side lost 2-1 to Everton in a pre-season friendly, said: "I know Roberto well, he knows me well. We're friends, and his technical team are also friends.

"Roberto started at the bottom here in England, and it's admirable he is now with a big team.

"He is obviously having a very good campaign, but we are going to approach the game in a good frame of mind, and to be aggressive.

"If I thought the players were worried by Everton then they may as well go home."

All eyes will be on Mel's first teamsheet to see if Nicolas Anelka is in the 17 on duty.

Shirt sponsor Zoopla, a property and house prices website co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, has reportedly threatened to end its involvement with the club if the Frenchman plays.

It follows Anelka's controversial 'quenelle' gesture - deemed by some to be anti-Semitic - made during the 3-3 draw at West Ham on December 28, which the Football Association is currently investigating.

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