Thursday 14 December 2017

Garcia on radar for Baggies hot-seat as Mel gets his cards

Pepe Mel, former manager of West Bromwich Albion. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Pepe Mel, former manager of West Bromwich Albion. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Simon Hart

It took them 26 days to appoint him but West Bromwich Albion needed less than 24 hours to draw a swift line under a shambolic season yesterday by agreeing the departure of manager Pepe Mel.

Mel's exit after four months in charge was agreed by mutual consent at a meeting with chairman Jeremy Peace, chief executive Mark Jenkins and Richard Garlick, the sporting and technical director. At 123 days, his reign is the joint-shortest in Albion history along with that of Nobby Stiles; the latter was sacked before Albion's 1986 relegation and Mel's side avoided the same fate by just three points, having won three of his 17 matches.

Garlick said: "Having reflected on events both on and off the field, it became apparent it was in the best interests of both parties for there to be an amicable parting."

Albion sources say they will not rush into naming a successor for Mel – whose 18-month contract had a break clause at the end of the season and who departs along with coaching colleague David Gomez – though it is understood they are considering an approach to Oscar Garcia, who resigned as Brighton manager after their Championship play-off semi-final defeat on Sunday.

The Hawthorns hierarchy recognise the need to get their next appointment right after the failed gamble on former Real Betis coach Mel, selected despite having no prior experience of English football and little grasp of English.

After Sunday's defeat to Stoke, defender Gareth McAuley admitted that Albion's players "didn't understand completely what we were being asked to do" by the Spaniard.

There was notable discontent, he added, with Mel's ally, Dave McDonough, the Spanish-speaking director of technical performance and scouting, who left the club in February after his hands-on role on the training ground led to unrest.

"One of the big problems was that we had a computer analyst putting his boots on and coming on to the training pitch and trying to coach 20 professional footballers. He was trying to translate (but) it was difficult for some players to take."

With six players at the end of their contracts and another four returning to parent clubs, it will be a testing summer at Albion, although the club hope the impending appointment of Terry Burton – formerly Roy Hodgson's No 2 at the club, who has been working as Arsenal's U-21s coach – to assist Garlick should help restore some stability.

Meanwhile, assistant head coach Keith Downing and goalkeeper coach Dean Kiely will remain in their current roles.

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