West Bromwich Albion are managerless after Spanish coach Pepe Mel decided to end his stay in the Premier League after less than six months in charge at the Hawthorns.
Arriving in January after the surprise dismissal of Steve Clarke, Mel has won just three of his 17 PL games in charge, drawing six and losing eight.
The former Real Betis manager was under fire from the beginning as he didn’t bring his own coaching staff to West Brom and reports were leaked out that his influence on plenty of team matters was extremely limited. The 51-year-old manager previously led Spanish clubs Ray Vallecano and Betis to success and you could see that the Baggies were starting to play extremely attractive soccer and were very hard to beat as they drew a league-high 15 games in the 2013-14 season.
However after finishing just one place and three points above the relegation zone, a meeting between Mel and the West Brom board on Monday resulted in an amicable split. This is what the statement on West Brom’s website had to say.
West Bromwich Albion have parted company with Pepe Mel by mutual consent. Both parties have decided to go their separate ways following talks between the Board of Directors and the Head Coach today. Mel was appointed in January and was in charge of 17 Barclays Premier League matches, which yielded three wins, six draws and eight defeats.
Sporting & Technical Director Richard Garlick said: “We would like to thank Pepe for his efforts over the past four months in helping to keep the Club in the Premier League and wish him well for the future. Both Pepe and the Club set out with the best intentions of making the appointment work. However, having reflected on events both on and off the field during our talks today, it became apparent that it was in the best interests of both parties for there to be an amicable parting.”
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday