KEITH Downing believes there are exciting times ahead following the appointment last night of Pepe Mel as Albion’s new head coach.
The pair and goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely are set to meet over the weekend, with former Real Betis boss Mel due to be at St Mary’s Stadium tomorrow in a watching brief for the Baggies’ clash with Southampton (ko 3pm).
And Downing says the announcement of the new boss has brought some stability to the camp as he looks to end his time at the helm on a high note against the Saints.
“It’s exciting times,” he said.
“I’m pleased it’s settled down and we’ve got someone in place on an 18-month contract that brings stability to the football club.
“It’s been a little unsettling particularly over the last week with all the rumours flying around.
“The players have tried to get on with things and they’ve done very well to focus and concentrate on the game.
“I’m going to meet him over the weekend and I’m aware he’s going to be at the game tomorrow, then we’ll crack on next week.”
He added: “I’ve heard good things about Real Betis.
“He got them up, stabilised them before they recently hit difficult times financially.
“The Spanish press are positive about him.
“He’s a name I wasn’t aware of up until a few weeks ago.
“But I think he fits the criteria and wants to play positive attacking football.
“It’s a new way forward for the football club so it’s exciting.
“It’s going to be an interesting time; there will be some help coming along in terms of translating the language.
“But football is a universal language and I’m excited to work with someone with new ideas.”
Downing was also quick to thank the players and backroom staff for their support over the last four weeks and believes the nine-day gap between the Southampton and Everton games will help Mel settle in at The Hawthorns.
“I’m pleased with my record as caretaker,” he said.
“There’s a lot of people for me to thank.
“The players responded positively and the backroom staff have come together.
“We just want to continue those positive results and it would be nice to finish on a high and then get back to supporting next week.
“We’ve got nine days between games after Saturday and he’ll have some good time there to work with the players and get his ideas across.”