West Brom have taken something of a punt in appointing former Real Betis manager Pepe Mel as the man to help them stave off relegation.
Regulars at the Hawthorns will know by now that the Spaniard is no stranger to a relegation battle, having seen Tenerife demoted under his watch after taking the reins from Rafa Benitez in 2001.
However, the new Baggies boss has earned a reputation for getting his teams to play an attractive style of attacking football and has enjoyed successful spells in Spain.
He earned promotion to the Segunda League during his second season in charge of Rayo Vallecano and later took Betis from the second tier of Spanish football to seventh in La Liga and a place in the Europa League.
With the Midlands outfit priced at 1,000/1 for a top six finish it seems that consolidation is the best Mel can hope for but the club’s board will hope that their new man can build a platform from which the club can build next year.
However, while success on the continent will have the optimistic among the Baggies faithful looking forward to the months ahead, the more cynical supporters will be mindful of when things went wrong for Steve Clarke’s replacement.
Mel was sacked by Vallecano in 2010 after a run of poor results and was only made available to sit in the Hawthorns dugout after being relieved of his duties at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
An attractive, positive style of play is what all fans want and Mel proved his doubters wrong by sticking to his guns in Spain’s second tier and earning promotion with a style many deemed ill-advised for its surroundings.
However, the same argument could be levelled for what is required at West Brom with a four-point gap between themselves and the bottom three not large enough to abandon being hard to beat in favour of chasing games from the onset.
Therefore, Mel will need to hit the ground running in his first game against Everton in order to ensure the 10/1 on a Baggies relegation does not shorten over the coming weeks.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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