West Bromwich Albion should have learned from the 2008-09 season when manager Tony Mowbray had the team playing attractive football yet saw the side finish at the foot of the Premier League table. Yet now they have a manager in Pepe Mel, a Spaniard determined to deliver style over results and maintain Premier League sustainability.
Mel said the following to West Brom’s official website:
“The ambition of the club is to improve every day and they have the ability and facilities to do that.
“We will try to create a team that plays attractively for the fans so that they can relate to the team.
“We will look to create a style of play that identifies us.
“Possession of the ball will be the most important thing for us.”
For the Baggies, getting results and surviving the drop must be the focus. Last season, Southampton made a similar move, appointing Mauricio Pochettino as manager. But in that case, the Saints went from a style that stressed attacking intent to one that valued defensive shape and organization. Southampton survived the drop and have spent the entire 2013-14 season in the top half of the table.
West Brom can only hope to be so lucky. A traditional yo-yo club that was stabilized in the top flight by Roy Hodgson, questions have always existed about the ability of the West Midlands club to maintain Premier League status. Prior to last season they were a favorite for relegation among some critics, but Steve Clarke guided the side to an eighth place finish.
The past few seasons skewed perceptions of West Brom, as this season the Hawthorns-based outfit is merely returning to their “level,” so to speak. Yet Steve Clarke was sacked with no succession plan in place. Now Mel had been brought in on an 18-month contract yet a long-term playing vision for the club.
Conceivably Mel is the answer, but given West Brom’s lack of resources and unwillingness to compete hard in the transfer market, it will be a difficult job. Certainly Mel’s managerial CV speaks for itself but the job could be a minefield. Perhaps that is why he only took a short-term contract?
Editor’s note: For the latest WBA news, analysis and opinion, visit the West Bromwich Albion team page.
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