sport

Mel: Wins crucial to survival

Pepe Mel preferred to answer the press in his native tongue ahead of Saturday's visit of Manchester United but admitted his team had to start winning games.

West Brom's underfire Spanish boss was forced to bat away questions relating to Nicolas Anelka's five-match ban for his controversial 'quenelle' gesture as well as his own job security and reports of player unrest.

Albion take on United at The Hawthorns knowing defeat could see them drop into the bottom three and deeper into the relegation mire.

However, the match itself is not top of the news agenda, as Mel referred all questions about Anelka to the club while insisting he is confident about his own future and downplaying talk of dissent among the playing personnel.

"As I can imagine the questions, today I prefer to speak in Spanish," he said through an interpreter.

Asked about his position considering his failure to win in six matches since replacing Steve Clarke, Mel said: "My job depends on winning games and being a head coach is a risky business.

"I came here extremely excited to do a good job and I'm certain that I'm going to carry this out."

Following reports of 'showdown' meetings with players, the former Real Betis boss was eager to stress such conversations are simply routine.

"We've been here six weeks and had six meetings," he said. "There was one this morning but it's intelligent to try and adapt to the style of play that we want.

"They are small things but they will make us better because the players will feel more comfortable. The players are the important ones, that are the coach's bread and butter.

"I'm the third coach at the club this season and it's not been a pleasant situation this season. Winning games changes everything and we could all be here on Saturday evening smiling.

"In football, you should never look to the following game and we are totally convinced we can win against Manchester United."

Albion look likely to be without key midfielders Chris Brunt and James Morrison.

Captain Brunt and fellow senior squad member Morrison both returned with knocks from international duty for Northern Ireland and Scotland respectively and will be assessed before the match.