- POSTED: 17 Jan 2014 05:13
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West Bromwich Albion's new head coach Pepe Mel announced his arrival at the Premier League club by insisting his team will avoid relegation and then challenge for a place in Europe.
LONDON: West Bromwich Albion's new head coach Pepe Mel announced his arrival at the Premier League club by insisting his team will avoid relegation and then challenge for a place in Europe.
Mel was appointed as successor to the sacked Steve Clarke last week and the 50-year-old Spaniard outlined his plans for the Baggies at his first press conference on Thursday.
With Albion out of both the FA and League Cups, Mel's sole task for the remainder of the campaign is to stop his side slumping out of the Premier League, with the club currently 14th and three points above the relegation zone.
Achieving that goal won't be easy for Mel, who speaks only a little English and has already suffered two significant setbacks in his short time in charge at the Hawthorns.
After reportedly snubbing Mel's request to appoint fellow Spaniards to his backroom team, Albion's owners also told the former Real Betis coach that he won't be given significant funds to improve the squad despite the imminent departure of Irish striker Shane Long, who is expected to join Hull City for around £7 million ($11.5m).
"It (losing Long) is something I was told would be a possibility," said Mel.
"But I'm absolutely certain there is enough in the squad, without Long, to stay in the Premier League.
"What's vital is my confidence is transmitted to the players, that they realise they are the stars of the show.
"I'm convinced things are going to go well here, and they (the players) are going to be a success.
"West Bromwich Albion have thought now, for a month, I am the best man for the job, which is important."
After watching Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Southampton from the stands as his assistants Keith Downing and Dean Kiely took charge on a caretaker basis for the final time, Mel's first official game at the helm is against Everton at the Hawthorns on Monday.
Asked as to where he thought he would be with Albion a year from now, a confident Mel pulled no punches as he said: "Fighting for places that give access to the Europa League.
"West Brom are obviously not going to sign (Lionel) Messi, but there are players who can come here and do a good job.
"They have given me a list of players they are currently speaking to, and they're all very good players."
At least Mel has one ally in his corner, and that is a close friend in former Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez, who advised his compatriot to take the post at Albion.
"I spoke to Rafa, who was a team-mate of mine at (Real) Madrid, and he really did encourage me to come here to England," Mel added.
"He told me the Premier League is the best in the world, and he was fortunate enough to have worked with two massive clubs in Liverpool and Chelsea.
"He also told me West Brom is a club that needs a lot of work, but has a lot of possibilities to be successful."