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May 12, 2014

West Brom announce Pepe Mel exit

West Bromwich Albion have announced the departure of head coach Pepe Mel.

Pepe Mel gestures to the fans following Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Stoke.
Pepe Mel gestures to the fans following Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Stoke.

Evans: Going through motions

Former Real Betis coach Mel signed an 18-month contract with the Baggies in January following the dismissal of Steve Clarke and, despite winning just three of his 17 games in charge, guided the club to safety.

On Monday, the club announced that, following talks with the board of directors, he had left by mutual consent.

Sporting and technical director Richard Garlick said on the official West Brom website: "We would like to thank Pepe for his efforts over the past four months in helping to keep the club in the Premier League and wish him well for the future.

"Both Pepe and the club set out with the best intentions of making the appointment work. However, having reflected on events both on and off the field during our talks today, it became apparent that it was in the best interests of both parties for there to be an amicable parting.

"We are grateful for the manner in which the existing coaching staff and players have rallied behind Pepe to get the club over the line in what has proved an extremely competitive division."

Garlick added: "Although we have managed to achieve a fifth successive season of Premier League football, it has been a very disappointing campaign and lessons have been learned."

David Gomez, who had been on Mel's staff at Betis and followed his fellow Spaniard to The Hawthorns in February, has also left the club but assistant head coach Keith Downing and goalkeeper coach Dean Kiely remain in their roles.

Garlick said the search for a new head coach had begun, adding: "We aim to find the most suitable candidate who, with the support of the structure we have had in place for six years and are presently strengthening, will enable the Club to be more competitive next season."

West Brom defender Gareth McAuley told the Express & Star newspaper that Mel's language issues had been "a big barrier" this season.

"It wasn't the tactics but we had the frustration that we didn't understand completely what we were being asked to do," McAuley explained. "It was the communication. It was a difficult period for us.

"We weren't split over it but we were trying to get it right and do the right things because we owed it to the club to do all we could to make sure we didn't get relegated.

"One of the big problems was that we had a computer analyst [David McDonough, who has been sacked] putting his boots on and coming on to the training pitch and trying to coach 20 professional footballers.

"He was trying to translate for Pepe too, but in football you either have a reputation or you earn a reputation. It was difficult for some players to take, being told by a computer analyst how to play football."

He added: "There have been a lot of things going on around the place and a lot of things that no one really knows about. It's been difficult, so to still be in the Premier League is a good achievement, but in a way we were probably lucky that there were three teams worse than us."

He stressed that Downing -- who had taken temporary charge of the team after Clarke's dismissal -- and Kiely had been key to West Brom avoiding the drop.

"Keith and Dean have worked together, but Keith's been brilliant for us," he said. "The club owe them a big thanks. They have managed to get us over the line and, when all is said and done, that's the important thing."

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