sport

Martinez backs Mel to succeed

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has backed Pepe Mel to "surprise a lot of people" and now expects a tougher game against West Brom.

Former Rayo Vallecano and Betis boss Mel, 50, takes charge of the Baggies for the first time on Monday evening against the Toffees following his appointment as successor to Steve Clarke on 9 January.

And his compatriot and Toffees boss Martinez believes he will do well in England.

"I think he will surprise a lot of people. He has been very successful in his time in Spain," said Martinez.

"The first time I was aware of his work was at Rayo Vallecano when he got them promoted to the top league against the odds with a very small budget and since then he has done a remarkable job wherever he has been.

"It is probably the wrong time to face Pepe Mel, but we wish him the best of luck after Monday.

"I can see this West Brom side being a different one to what has been so far this season.

"We know their players really well, but they will do things differently.

"But we will concentrate on ourselves and try to be as good as we can in the things we do."

Mel joins a healthy crop of managers in the Premier League of Spanish descent or with strong experience of working in Spain.

However, Martinez does not feel that English football is losing its identity as a result of this.

"In football you get trends. In the 1970s it was Germany and Holland, then you had a period where the Italians were winning consistently in Europe and that affected the game," he added.

"Now it is Spain and the way they develop players and their concept of possession football has a big influence.

"It is always beneficial to open up to different ways of working and then pick what fits each individual and each country and we are going to benefit as England in terms of different cultures working in the same league.

"That will allow the players to be more rounded and have a bigger football knowledge and that can only help.

"English football still has its own identity, 100%."