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West Brom appoints Pepe Mel as head coach

Jan 9, 2014, 5:10 PM EST

RCD Espanyol v Real Betis Balompie - La Liga Getty Images

West Brom closed its managerial hole late Thursday by appointing former Real Betis manager Pepe Mel as head coach.

He inherits the seat left vacant on Dec. 14 as Steve Clarke was relieved from duty at The Hawthorns.

Mel was among the first considered, according to reports, but snags arose over selection of staff.

The 50-year-old Spaniard will monitor the team from the stands Saturday at Southampton as Baggies assistant coach Keith Downing continues on as interim manager for one last match. That is according to the club’s web site. Downing is then expected to remain on.

Mel’s first match in charge, then, will be a home match against U.S. international Tim Howard and fifth-place Everton on Jan. 20.

“Pepe was a strong contender from the outset due to his impressive achievements and has emerged as our No.1 candidate,” West Brom technical director Richard Garlick said via the club’s web site. “He is a forward thinking coach whose teams are renowned for playing an attractive and positive style of football.”

West Brom is currently 14th, but just four points out of the relegation zone.

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