Relief as Pepe finally grabs first win

Wednesday 19th March 2014 23:22

Pepe Mel: Grabbed his first win in charge of the Baggies

Pepe Mel: Grabbed his first win in charge of the Baggies

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West Brom FanZoner Joe Chapman reflects on Pepe Mel's much needed first win in charge of the Baggies last weekend.

Everyone can finally, FINALLY, take a collective sigh of relief.

Albion's ability to secure their first victory since New Year's Day - and second away win of the season- at Swansea on Saturday had the 2,000 Baggies at the Liberty Stadium alongside half of the Black Country boinging come 5pm. Not many had us down for three points, but they were hugely welcome and relieved a lot of pressure on the players and most importantly, Pepe Mel.

The fans took Spanish flags in abundance as a show of support to their under-fire manager, and he was able to reward them as his players delivered the first victory of his tenure. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it was a case of 'same old Albion' two minutes in, when Roland Lamah found the corner of the net after walking past Steven Reid.

We could have been four down at half time. It should have been out of reach. The second period, however, was without doubt our 45 minutes as a team under Mel.

From the first minute there was more intensity, urgency and we began to really see the benefits of the changed formation to 3-5-2 as Reid and Liam Ridgewell ventured further forward up the pitch. Stephane Sessegnon, who equalised with a thunderous effort, was far more involved and really gave Leon Britton something to think about. Victor Anichebe caused all sorts of problems for Jordi Amat in particular as well.

Even the return of Michu halfway through the half wasn't enough to overturn the one-way traffic that occurred, as Albion continued to pile on the pressure. Man-of-the-Match Youssouf Mulumbu capped off the recovery in the last five minutes with a superb curling finish to send the visiting supporters back to England delirious.

I was hugely impressed particularly with duo Craig Dawson and Graham Dorrans. Neither have had much game time recently, yet I think the change in formation suited this. Dawson playing alongside Gareth McAuley AND Jonas Olsson certainly benefitted the England U21 international- although with the latter suspended for the next two games, his mettle will be tested.

Dorrans' situation is an interesting one. He seemed to be completely out of the picture alongside Markus Rosenberg under Steve Clarke and has been linked with numerous Championship sides recently, but while he's had to bide his time with Mel initially, he grasped his chance at the weekend.

I was thrilled for Pepe himself. Throughout the last few weeks when so much doubt has clouded his immediate future, he has remained thoroughly professional and clearly the players have responded. The celebrations on the pitch at the final whistle spoke volumes of how much the players are behind their boss. Hopefully this is the start of a late surge that can see us drag ourselves away from danger.

We travel to the KC next, where we meet Shane Long, Robert Koren, Paul McShane and Curtis Davies. The Tigers have really impressed me this season, but we can climb above them with another victory.

The Baggies will be backed by at least 2,500 fans after more offers on away matches by the club, so the message should be clear. More of the same, please.

Come on you Baggies!

You can follow Joe on Twitter at @jcwba16 - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too for links to all the latest blogs.

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