I’d have kept Long at Baggies

PREMIER LEAGUE:

I’d have kept Long at Baggies

Spaniard Mel’s appointment as head coach and successor to the sacked Steve Clarke was announced by the Baggies on January 9.

Long was still a West Brom player at that point and completed a full 90 minutes for them on January 11 as they lost 1-0 at Southampton — a game for which they still had caretaker boss Keith Downing in charge, while Mel watched from the stands.

Prior to Albion’s next fixture, Long’s transfer to Hull was confirmed on January 17, and the Ireland striker is set to line up against his old club today as they visit KC Stadium in the Premier League.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Mel said of the front man: “Before I arrived here, Long was out. It was not my problem.”

Asked if he’d have liked to have kept Long at West Brom, Mel said: “Of course — Romelu Lukaku (who was on loan with West Brom last season from Chelsea) too.

“But it was not possible. My job began on January 14, and Shane Long was at Hull.”

Albion, three points above the relegation zone in 16th place with nine games to go, registered their first win under Mel last weekend in their eighth attempt as they won 2-1 at Swansea. Some Baggies fans brought Spanish flags with them to the game as a show of support for Mel.

And regarding that, he said: “I have only one win, but the fans have always been very kind. It is incredible.”

Hull boss Steve Bruce, for his part insists Long has nothing to prove today.

“Make no mistake, Shane will want to do well and he will go to bed tonight dreaming he will get the winning goal against his former club.

“But Shane has got nothing to prove to West Brom. Over the years he proved to be a terrific player for them and a great signing. We chased him for a long time and we’re delighted to have him here. He and Nikica Jelavic have really given the place a lift.”

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