Mel will take over as West Brom head coach on 20 January
Mel will take over as West Brom manager on 20 January

West Bromwich Albion have appointed former Real Betis manger Pepe Mel as their new head coach on an 18-month contract.

The Baggies have been looking for a new manager since Steve Clark was sacked on 14 December.

Mel, 50, had held talks with the club back in December but was soon ruled out when he revealed he wanted to bring in his own backroom staff.

Caretaker manager Keith Downing will remain in charge for Saturday's game at Southampton but will then work as assistant head coach under the Spaniard.

Mel, who was sacked by Betis in December, will take over when the Baggies play Everton on 20 January.

Sporting and technical director Richard Garlick said: "I'm delighted to welcome Pepe to the club.

"His appointment concludes an extensive recruitment process during which we have cast the net far and wide to identify the most suitable candidate to take the club forward.

"Pepe was a strong contender from the outset due to his impressive achievements and has emerged as our number one candidate.

"He is a forward-thinking coach whose teams are renowned for playing an attractive and positive style of football."

Garlick added: "The Board is extremely grateful to Keith, the coaching staff and players for their efforts over the past month, which has yielded six points from four unbeaten league games.

"Keith will have an important role to play in supporting Pepe as he coaches in England for the first time."

Former West Brom captain Darren Moore is positive that Mel's appointment will be the start of a long reign and not just a quick fix.

"Mr [Jeremy] Peace (West Brom chairman) has certainly got managerial appointments correct over the last how many years. Certainly in [appointing] Roberto di Matteo and Roy Hodgson," Moore told talkSport.

"He has got it right, so now what we have to do is sit back and have a look at what Pepe Mel's going to bring to West Brom. Certainly from the West Bromwich Albion fans perspective they'll want the club to move onto that next level."