Benitez influenced Mel's move to England

West Bromwich Albion manager Pepe Mel has revealed he decided to move to England on the back of Rafael Benitez's advice.

Benitez, Liverpool and Chelsea's former manager, and Mel have been close friends since they came through the Real Madrid academy system together in the 1970s.

And when Mel was first contacted by West Brom, the 50-year-old rang Benitez, with that conversation prompting him to join the English Premier League club.

"I spoke with Rafael Benitez, he is a very good friend and was a team-mate of mine at Madrid. He really did encourage me to come here to England," Mel said on Thursday.

"He (Benitez) said to me that West Brom is a club that needs to do a lot of work but still has a lot of possibilities to be successful.

"Rafa has been fortunate enough to work for two massive clubs, Liverpool and Chelsea, and he clearly liked it that much here that his wife and children still live up in Liverpool."

Mel was unveiled as West Brom's replacement for Steve Clarke on January 9 and after just over a week in the job, the Spaniard is positive in his predictions for the West Midlands club, despite their current standing of 14th in the Premier League ahead of Monday's clash with Everton.

"I'm convinced that things are going to go well here and that things are going to be a success," Mel said.

"West Bromwich Albion have thought for a month that I'm the best man for the job and that's very important."

Mel was sacked by Real Betis at the start of December, despite having led the southern Spanish club into this season's UEFA Europa League.

The former striker, who played for Betis, Granada and Getafe, can see some similarities between his former employers and West Brom, who have told Mel he has no money to bring in new signings in January.

"When I started at Betis they were in the Spanish second tier and didn't have any money," Mel said.

"Four years later we were playing in the Europa League.

"There were four very tough years of work in Betis. Here it is really the same job that I've got to do.

"I hope that in the future, and many years from now when I leave here, that West Brom will also be in my heart."


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