West Brom boss Pepe Mel is wary of Norwich City’s split personality
06:30 05 April 2014
Pepe Mel has been in England long enough to appreciate Norwich City’s split personality – which is why West Brom’s boss is braced for a severe test at Carrow Road.
The Canaries’ impressive home form is in stark contrast to a losing stretch on the road in 2014, but Mel respects the threat that awaits his squad.
The Spaniard has spent the build-up taking the heat out of a dressing room spat between Saido Berahino and James Morrison in the aftermath of last week’s 3-3 Premier League home draw against Cardiff. Albion, however, scored twice in the opening 10 minutes at The Hawthorns and Mel believes they will need to be just as sharp to subdue Chris Hughton’s side.
“With Norwich it’s almost as if it is two different teams, two versions – the team that plays at home and the team that plays away. We’re actually going to be facing the better version of Norwich,” he said. “Norwich at home is a very strong team and it’s going to be a very difficult game. The most important thing is the football and what the fans want to know is who is going to play and how we’re going to play. What we’re going to try and do is play like we did during the first half-an-hour against Cardiff. We played very well during the first half and the players put in a good shift, so I can’t criticise them for that, but we need to win games. The most important thing is to keep a clean sheet. We don’t actually know how many points we’ll need. We just need to focus on our next game against Norwich.”
Albion revealed on Thursdayy the warring factions had resolved their differences and Mel insisted the controversial matter is now closed.
“They solved the situation between themselves in a perfectly natural manner, almost as if they were two brothers from the same family,” the former Real Betis boss said.
“I spoke to Saido – he perhaps seems to be more responsible than other people of his age – and I told him that I trust him and trust that he will continue to work well.”
Baggies officials have laid on free coach travel for the majority of their 2,500 travelling support this afternoon and Mel is confident his players can rise to the challenge again as they did in their recent away day success at Swansea.
“A similar thing also happened against Swansea and we were able to celebrate the victory with the fans,” he said. “We weren’t lucky enough on the pitch for this to happen against Hull (in the next away game) but it’s very important for us to know the fans are there with us.”