Club News

Mel: Benitez nudged me towards Albion

New Baggies head coach reveals how he consulted old Real Madrid pal

PEPE Mel has revealed how good friend Rafael Benitez helped persuade him to become Albion’s new head coach.

The duo came through the ranks together as young players at Real Madrid and have remained close ever since.

And former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Benitez, who is currently in charge of Serie A outfit Napoli, had positive things to say about the opportunity that awaited Mel at The Hawthorns as his first job in English football.

"Yes, I spoke to Rafa Benitez,” said the 50-year-old.

“He was a team-mate of mine at Madrid, and he really did encourage me to come here to England.

"He said West Brom is a club that needs a lot of work, but has a lot of possibilities to be successful.

"Rafa did say it's the best league in the world, and he was fortunate enough to have worked with two massive clubs in Liverpool and Chelsea.

"Rafa clearly liked it that much that his wife and children live in Liverpool."

Mel admits he speaks to Benitez regularly – but insists the challenge he faces with the Baggies is very different to the one his old pal faced at Anfield and Stamford Bridge.

He added: "Yes, he is a very good friend of mine, but the team Rafa picked up is very different to the team I've got here. 

“It's different things.

"But I'm convinced things are going to go well here, and they are going to be a success.

 "West Bromwich Albion have thought now, for a month, I am the best man for the job, which is important."