2:08pm Saturday 18th January 2014
© Press Association 2014
West Brom's top brass are adamant they have not hung out new head coach Pepe Mel to dry even before the Spaniard has taken charge of his first game.
Mel's appointment has raised eyebrows, with the Baggies handing the 50-year-old an 18-month contract just a few weeks after his sacking as manager of Real Betis.
In taking over from the axed Steve Clarke, the aim for Mel for the remainder of the campaign is simple - to ensure Albion retain their Barclays Premier League status.
Mel, however, goes into the final 17 games of the season without any Spanish-speaking support staff and no money to spend in the transfer window, whilst on Friday the club also sold one of their top stars in Shane Long to Hull.
Throw in the fact Mel also has to contend with the furore surrounding Nicolas Anelka and it is easy to see why he appears to face an uphill struggle prior to his reign starting on Monday with Everton's visit to The Hawthorns.
Reportedly, shirt sponsor Zoopla - a property and house prices website co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman - are threatening to pull their sponsorship should Anelka play against Everton.
The suggestion follows Anelka's controversial 'quenelle' gesture - deemed by some to be anti-Semitic - made during Albion's 3-3 draw at West Ham on December 28, which the Football Association is currently investigating.
Despite Mel's back appearing to be against the wall, sporting and technical director Richard Garlick said: "When Pepe looked at the squad and club he was very pleased with it.
"We've assessed it and gone through that process when we appointed him. He is more than happy with the options we've got.
"If we felt we needed to do something in the transfer window then we would look at doing that, but they would be short-term solutions.
"He's aware of our transfer policy, which is well documented. If anything he's aware we've too many players and knew we would trim the squad of one or two players who weren't playing.
"He thinks we're capable of not only staying up, but pushing on up the league."
Garlick inists the club have not taken an undue risk in hiring Mel, who took Real Betis into Europe this season just two years after promotion from Spain's second division.
But with Betis floundering at the bottom of La Liga, and despite the club reaching the knockout stages of the Europa League, the decision was taken to axe Mel in early December.
Soon after Albion came calling and, although initially it appeared Mel would not be appointed given issues over his backroom staff, a U-turn was performed.
"Any appointment is risky," added Garlick, who has warned the fans not to expect a Spanish revolution.
"But we did our due diligence, we went through an extensive process and what Pepe has is (coaches) Keith Downing and Dean Kiely, who know the players.
"In terms of the risk, I don't see it as a risk as such. I see it as somebody who will come in and be pragmatic.
"He's not going to revolutionise it overnight. He's got 14 years experience as a head coach in Spain.
"He will come over and listen, and he has a very engaging manner. He's inclusive."
With regard to Anelka, it is understood Albion will not be dictated to by a sponsor, regardless of the financial implications.
When contacted by Press Association Sport spokespersons for both Albion and Zoopla declined to comment on the article in Marketing Week.
John Simpson, Albion's head of communications, said: "West Bromwich Albion will be making no further comment until the Football Association has concluded its investigation, and the club its own internal inquiry, into the matter."
Zoopla's head of communications, Lawrence Hall added: "We are not commenting at this stage. If this changes, we'll let you know."
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