Manchester City v West Brom: Manuel Pellegrini backs Pepe Mel to succeed in England

 

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The Independent Online

The Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has backed his West Bromwich Albion counterpart Pepe Mel to be a success in English football.

The pair know each other well, with both men having begun their Premier League careers this season after lengthy stints working in Spain. Mel, appointed as Albion head coach in January, has made something of a slow start, where he failed to oversee a West Bromwich win until his eighth game in charge, while the club continue to struggle in the bottom end of the table.

There have been notable signs of improvement of late, with that victory, a 2-1 win at Swansea, one of two in West Bromwich’s last five matches – the other a 1-0 win at Norwich – a sequence in which they have only been beaten once. While Mel himself has admitted he is unsure about the chances of him still being in the job next season, Pellegrini is confident the Spaniard will do well in England.

Speaking before tonight’s match between City and West Bromwich at the Etihad Stadium, the Chilean said of Mel: “I think he is a very good manager. He is a manager that wants his teams to play attractive football – he always tries to make it so that his team will play with a lot of possession of the ball and make a very offensive game.”

Asked if he could see Mel being successful in English football, Pellegrini replied: “Yes, of course, because I repeat – I think he is a very good manager and he worked very well in Spain. I am sure that here in England when he settles, he will be a very good manager also.”

In contrast to Mel, Pellegrini, brought in at City as successor to Roberto Mancini last summer, has been involved in the battle at the top end of the league this season and his side’s title challenge has suffered some significant blows over the last few days.

They go into tonight’s contest off the back of a 2-2 home draw with rock-bottom Sunderland, which followed a 3-2 loss at league leaders Liverpool, now nine points clear of City, albeit with Pellegrini’s men having played two games less. Reflecting on the shock result against Sunderland, the 60-year-old has reiterated that relegation-threatened clubs like  the Wearsiders and 16th-placed West Bromwich make for particularly tricky opponents.

Mel, meanwhile, has made it clear he and his players have taken great encouragement from Sunderland’s exploits at the Etihad Stadium ahead of their own trip to the ground.

But Pellegrini has also stressed that each assignment in the Premier League is different, and is eager to see his side bounce back from the disappointment of that previous outing.

He said: “I think all the games are different. It would be very easy to just focus on what has happened in other games. The performance in every game is very important and I hope we are going to improve our performance against West Brom.”

City playmaker David Silva’s ankle problem makes him a doubt for the match.

Pellegrini has revealed winger Jesus Navas has also been struggling with an ankle problem, and tonight’s game will come too soon for midfielder Yaya Touré to return after his leg injury. It was suggested earlier this week that the injury could keep him out for up to a fortnight.

Defender Matija Nastasic, out of action since February because of a knee complaint, remains unavailable.

Odds: Home 1-5 Draw 7-1 Away 15-1

Kick-off Tonight, 8pm (Sky Sports 1; highlights Sky Sports 1, 1am)

Team news

David Silva and Jesus Navas (both ankle) remain doubts for Manchester City, with Yaya Touré (leg) missing. West Bromwich have doubts over Jonas Olsson (Achilles) and James Morrison (ankle), while midfielder Scott Sinclair is ineligible against his parent side.

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