Mel future uncertain as West Brom look to rebuild
LONDON (Reuters) - West Bromwich Albion manager Pepe Mel says the club will have to build a new team next season, but the Spanish coach is unsure whether he will be there to oversee the transition.
Following his relegation-threatened side’s 1-0 Premier League defeat at fourth-placed Arsenal on Sunday, Mel indicated that his managerial role at the Hawthorns remains in the balance, with talks about his job to be held after their final game next weekend.
The 51-year-old former Real Betis coach only took charge of West Brom in January, but warned just days after signing an 18-month contract that he could leave the club at the end of the season if he was not allowed to bring in his own backroom staff.
"There are 13 players who are going to be out of contract (at the end of the season) so it’s pretty much like building a new team and West Brom have a lot to do," Mel told reporters.
"After the Stoke City game (next Sunday) we have a meeting and then we’ll decide whether or not I’m going to be at West Brom next season.
"The really important thing is that the club know what I feel and what I believe. I have a meeting with the chairman and I’ll express what I want in order for me to continue."
West Brom sacked manager Steve Clarke in December with the team 14th in the table after winning only once in 10 games but they have continued to struggle since Mel’s appointment.
It took until last Saturday for Mel to win his first home game, a 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers West Ham.
West Brom, 16th in the table on 36 points, effectively guaranteed their Premier League safety when 18th-placed Norwich City, in the final relegation spot and three points adrift, drew 0-0 at Chelsea on Sunday.
West Brom travel to 17th-place Sunderland on Wednesday before hosting Stoke City next Sunday in their final game of the season. Norwich have only one game remaining and a significantly inferior goal difference.
"Right now we still need one more point to ensure that we’re safe (from relegation)," Mel said.
"After we’ve seen what Sunderland have done in the last month absolutely anything is possible.
"What I really want to do is keep West Brom in the Premier League and I can tell you now that I would be extremely happy to be at West Brom next season."
(Editing by Toby Davis)
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