Mauricio Pochettino hopes his old teacher Pepe Mel will steer West Brom to safety – and believes the new Baggies boss is walking into a similar situation to the one he faced a year ago.
Pochettino is fast approaching the first anniversary of his appointment at St Mary’s, having taken over a club for whom he firstly needed to ensure top flight survival before trying to move them forward.
He has done that with a large degree of success, and it’s now the task facing Mel, who was one of the teachers as Pochettino studied in Spain for his UEFA Pro Licence.
“I know him so well that he was actually my teacher, my professor, when I was getting my pro licence at the Spanish FA about six or seven years ago,” said Pochettino of the man who watched his new side lose 1-0 from the St Mary’s directors’ box on Saturday.
“I hope that he does well and I wish him all the best.
“I hope he is able to develop the playing style he wants at West Brom.
“I hope he’s able to adapt quite quickly and establish himself quite quickly.
Lucky enough “I hope he’s also lucky enough to have found the great and amazing group of players I’ve found here, the great staff I’ve found here and the amazing environment I found here because that’s made it a lot easier to adapt to this league.”
Mel arrived at the Baggies with his new club 14th in the league, four points off the drop zone.
That was one place and one point better off than Saints were when Pochettino replaced the sacked Nigel Adkins in a blaze of publicity.
Pochettino added of the Premier League’s 10th foreign manager: “I spoke with him before the game.
“He’s in a very similar situation to what I was a year ago, so we were talking quite a bit.
“He asked me quite a lot of questions about how I managed a year ago and I was trying to give him as much advice as I could.
“It’s clear he is facing a new league and I tried to help as much as I can with what I learned a year ago.”
Mel has managed against Pochettino previously in La Liga and the Saints man knows the transition that he faces.
“Football is quite different in Spain to what it is here,” reflected Pochettino.
“The culture is different, the idiosyncrasies are different – it’s the same game but it’s a completely different game.
“The football is a lot more aggressive here, it’s a lot more dynamic, there’s a lot more passion on the pitch and off the pitch as well.
“It’s truly great here whereas in Spain it’s a lot more relaxed.
“It’s clear that it takes time to transmit ideas and get them working and established into the club. “Everything takes time.
“I have been very lucky to come to Southampton because the players here have a great winning mentality.
“The staff and the workers here have helped us a lot and been very generous and full of solidarity with us, and that’s made things easier for us.
“I hope that he’s able to do very well and to develop his playing style as best as he can.
“I hope so (he can keep him up). Also West Bromwich need to believe it too – that’s why they signed him.”