Mel stands by football philosophy

Blackpool Citizen: Chris Hughton, pictured, is the favourite to become manager of West Brom Chris Hughton, pictured, is the favourite to become manager of West Brom

Pepe Mel has indicated his unwillingness to "betray" his football philosophy was key to him leaving West Brom.

Albion announced on Monday they had parted company with Mel, who only took over as their head coach in January, by mutual consent.

The Spaniard kept the Baggies up - they finished 17th in the Barclays Premier League, three points above the relegation zone - but he endured a troubled reign.

His first victory in the job did not come until his eighth match, the team won just three games in total out of the 17 he was in charge for, and only one of those triumphs was at home.

Among the difficulties he faced was striker Shane Long being sold to Hull around the time Mel arrived at The Hawthorns, and he also subsequently lost the services of Nicolas Anelka as a consequence of the 'quenelle' saga.

In an interview with Spanish radio station Cadena SER, the 51-year-old former Real Betis boss nonetheless spoke of a "wonderful experience" managing in the English top-flight.

But he also made it clear there had been issues with regard to the style he wanted West Brom to play in.

Mel said: "I had talks and West Brom and I decided that the best thing was to part company.

"It's a wonderful experience (to coach in the Premier League). Anyone in their jobs should experience this, you learn lots of things.

"Football is experienced differently here - it's neither better nor worse than Spain, just different.

"But I cannot betray the essence of what I consider football to be. I think it is best to end it here.

"They invented football and have a certain style and culture of football that is not necessarily the idea that we have right now in Spain."

He added: "The situation at the club at the beginning of January was not stable. They had sold some players. We lost Anelka.

"In a week I had lost my best two strikers. It was difficult, we had a very complicated calendar and that is why I'm very happy and proud that we had saved ourselves when everything looked ugly.

"We are all happy. But I cannot continue in the same way because I cannot betray myself. They (the players) are more comfortable doing what they know, to play the way they play.

"We, the coaches, depend on the players - they are the ones that give to you or take things away from you. If the players are comfortable on the pitch that is crucial.

"I go back home calm, knowing that I've done what I was hired to do. I leave with all the affection of the people and the club.

"The best for me and my future is to find another place."

Mel has been strongly linked with a return to the Primera Division with Malaga.

Along with Chris Hughton and Malky Mackay, other names in the frame to succeed him include Celtic boss Neil Lennon, Tim Sherwood - relived of his duties as Tottenham boss on Tuesday - and former Baggies midfielder Derek McInnes, who is currently in charge of Aberdeen.

West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster has suggested Mel's level of English meant "it was always difficult" but has wished him well and stressed the need for the club's players to reflect upon their own part in Albion's poor campaign.

Foster, quoted by the Express & Star, said: "As players we also need to have a long, hard, look at ourselves because we haven't performed this year.

"I think everyone would agree it's been quite a lucky one and we're all quite relieved that we've retained our status.

"It's always a bit of a shock when a manager leaves and I'd like to pass on my regards and best wishes.

"It was a tough ask for him in the first place but, whoever we'd got in, everybody would have been really happy if they'd guaranteed us Premier League safety.

"It was always difficult because of the language barrier."

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