West Brom appoint Pepe Mel
West Brom have appointed former Real Betis boss Pepe Mel as their new head coach on an 18-month contract.
Steve Clarke was sacked by the Baggies on Dec. 14 and while they might have got their first-choice, it has not been a straight-forward process.
Mel, 50, was in discussions to replace Clarke last month but appeared to have been ruled out of the running after West Brom denied his request to bring in his own backroom staff. He was ousted at Betis as recently as Dec. 2.
He is said to have watched Albion's Boxing Day draw with Tottenham at White Hart Lane, and he was expected to take over before the New Year only for talks to break down.
And as recently as Wednesday, West Brom looked set to appoint former Werder Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf but it is believed the two parties also had disagreements over the coaching staff, while the possibility of a job in the Bundesliga next season led to doubts from the 52-year-old.
Negotiations between the Baggies and Schaaf were at an advanced stage after two rounds of negotiations, but the German is believed to want to work with former Bremen assistants Wolfgang Roff and Matthias Honerbach, with Albion only willing to allow one to join him -- to replace Kevin Keen, who departed with Clarke almost a month ago.
West Brom sporting and technical director Richard Garlick said: "I'm delighted to welcome Pepe to the club. His appointment concludes an extensive recruitment process during which we have cast the net far and wide to identify the most suitable candidate to take the club forward.
"Pepe was a strong contender from the outset due to his impressive achievements and has emerged as our number one candidate. He is a forward-thinking coach whose teams are renowned for playing an attractive and positive style of football."
Mel has had a nomadic managerial career, and West Brom will be 10th club since starting out at Madrid amateur side Coslada in 1999. He managed seven clubs in six years -- Coslada, Merida, Murcia, Tenerife, Getafe, Alaves and Polideportivo Ejido -- before a four-year spell in charge of Rayo Vallecano prior to his move to Real Betis.
Mel's greatest crime at Betis was to fail to live up to the success of last season, with a seventh-placed finish earning them a Europa League spot. A heavy 4-0 loss to rivals Sevilla essentially saw him off but he has been out of work for less than six weeks.
Mel takes over a side out of the FA and League cups and 14th in the Premier League, some four points off the drop zone.