Downing expects positive Mel impact
West Brom assistant Keith Downing says the appointment of Pepe Mel as the club’s new head coach indicates there may be exciting times ahead for the Baggies.
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Former Real Betis manager Mel has signed an 18-month contract to replace Steve Clarke and will be at St Mary's on Saturday for a watching brief before taking full control next week.
Assistant head coach Downing will remain in charge for the visit to Southampton and is relieved to see an end to the uncertainty which has surrounded the club since Clarke was dismissed on Dec. 14.
Downing is also confident that Mel, who arrives with a reputation for encouraging attacking football from his time in La Liga, can help Albion climb away from the relegation trouble in the Premier League.
"It’s exciting times. I’m pleased it’s settled down and we’ve got someone in place on an 18-month contract that brings stability to the football club," Downing said.
"It’s been a little unsettling, particularly over the last week with all the rumours flying around. The players have tried to get on with things and they’ve done very well to focus and concentrate on the game.
"I’m going to meet him over the weekend and I’m aware he’s going to be at the game, then we’ll crack on next week."
Downing will remain on the backroom staff, along with goalkeeper coach Dean Kiley -- with Mel expected to bring in one of his assistants from his time at Betis. The Spaniard has hinted, however, that he would like to address the coaching staff situation in full at the end of the current season.
That would mean the possibility of bringing in another trusted assistant, despite the fact West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace has made it clear Mel has to work within the existing coaching framework at the club.
Whatever happens over the next few months, Downing is optimistic the club is on an upward trajectory, saying: "I’ve heard good things about Real Betis. He got them up, stabilised them before they recently hit difficult times financially.
"The Spanish press are positive about him. He’s a name I wasn’t aware of up until a few weeks ago. But I think he fits the criteria and wants to play positive attacking football. It’s a new way forward for the football club so it’s exciting.