Exclusive: Gareth McAuley lifts lid on West Bromwich Albion's season of turmoil

Gareth McAuley today lifted the lid on Albion’s behind-the-scenes turmoil as boss Pepe Mel prepared for D-Day in his quest to keep his job.

Gareth McAuley lifts the lid on Albion's season

McAuley gave the first detailed account of Mel’s struggles to win over Baggies players and the squad’s anger over the influence of sacked aide Dave McDonough.

And, as Mel prepared for crunch talks with chairman Jeremy Peace that look increasingly likely to see the Spaniard shown the door, McAuley admitted the Baggies were ‘lucky’ to avoid relegation.

Yesterday’s 2-1 home defeat to Stoke meant the Baggies ended the campaign just one place and three points outside the drop-zone.

That followed a turbulent season that saw Steve Clarke sacked and replaced by Mel, only for senior players to raise concerns over the former Real Betis man and director of technical performance and scouting McDonough, who championed Mel’s appointment but was later sacked.

Senior players raised concerns to the club’s hierarchy, leading to a series of crisis meetings.

McAuley said: “It wasn’t the tactics but we had the frustration that we didn’t understand completely what we were being asked to do.

“It was the communication. It was a difficult period for us.

“We weren’t split over it but we were trying to get it right and do the right things because we owed it to the club to do all we could to make sure we didn’t get relegated.

“One of the big problems was that we had a computer analyst (McDonough) putting his boots on and coming on to the training pitch and trying to coach 20 professional footballers.

“He was trying to translate for Pepe too, but in football you either have a reputation or you earn a reputation.

“It was difficult for some players to take, being told by a computer analyst how to play football.

“That was a big area where the lads weren’t having it all, to be honest.

“A big thing we’ve been missing is honesty around the place.

“That brings distractions and means people go in a different direction as well causing problems with discipline.

“The two things went hand in hand and caused a distraction. It took people’s minds away from football.

“Players should be concentrating on football, not other things.

“There have been a lot of things going on around the place and a lot of things that no-one really knows about.

“It’s been difficult, so to still be in the Premier League is a good achievement, but in a way we were probably lucky that there were three teams worse than us.”

Mel is set to meet with Peace early this week amid increasing signs that the Baggies will activate the get-out clause in the Spaniard’s 18-month contract.

He has picked up three wins from his 17 games in charge, compared to Clarke’s three wins from 16 league fixtures before his sacking in December.

The backlash from players led to Mel taking an increasing backseat at the club with assistant Keith Downing and goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely taking on a prominent role both on the training ground and in the dressing room before games and at half-time.

McAuley said: “Pepe’s come into a different country and language has been a big barrier.

“He’ll tell you that himself.

“It’s difficult for a player coming into a different country, but when it’s the main focal point of a club and you can’t get your point across clearly enough then it’s difficult for everyone.

“Keith and Dean have worked together, but Keith’s been brilliant for us.

“The club owe them a big thanks.

“They have managed to get us over the line and, when all is said and done, that’s the important thing.

“Players come and go but there is a lot to sort out. They’ve got it right over the years here so hopefully they can get it right again and we won’t have another season like this one.”

Stephane Sessegnon scored Albion’s only goal yesterday as another tame display saw them end the season with three straight defeats.

McAuley, whose own-goal gave Stoke the lead before half-time, said: “We didn’t play great in the first half and in the second half we were a bit better.

“It’s probably been like that for most of the season.

“We have played for halves and not full games and this is another one.

“I scored the first goal trying to cut it out and the second one went through my legs, which probably about sums up the season.

“Since I’ve come here it’s always been about improving on the last season – and we spoke in pre-season about doing that.

“With one thing and another, right from pre-season, it wasn’t really working.

“We have to get that right now, get our heads down in pre-season – the lads that are here and any new lads that come in – get ourselves together and make sure we don’t have another season like this.”

Comments for: "Exclusive: Gareth McAuley lifts lid on West Bromwich Albion's season of turmoil"

Baggiescomeon

Did Gareth actually say turmoil, or is this a E&S statement once again

Go buy yourselves a power press to go with the printing one, and see if you can bleed things dry anymore than you already have. !!

Cyril

I think Gareth has made the points we wanted to ask. No need to add much more really.

The View From Baggy Bottom

Hi Cyril,

That's just about what I was thinking myself. What can you add to such a damning statement from one of our best and most grounded of players. He seems to be confirming our suspicions and its all very sad. Lets hope that there's a plan B waiting to swing into action with immediate effect.

Boing Boing!!!

TVFB♥B.

wiltshirebaggy

let Pepe bring in the people he wants to work with...give the guy the opportunity.

John B

So it appears pepe has not been in charge for several months. It looks like KD has been running things. Cant see any reason for keeping pepe after these comments. The fact however is pepe after being here now knows the players to get rid of and who to bring in. If a new manager comes in every player will be given a clean slate and it will take months to assess the squad as they will all be off on holiday for the next 6 weeks. Give pepe the chance to get rid of the players who have tried to get rid of him

SurreyBaggie

I think the lid was already off to be honest - nothing really new here. I'm not sure what went on for DMcD to get the role he did, but news of his interferences at the training stage preceded Mel's appointment, and I think probably went some way to securing the type of performances that cost Clarke his job. His removal could not have come soon enough and I'd be quite excited at seeing what Terry Burton could do in a supporting role - his CV and reputation seem sound. I'm feeling quite excited now that the season has concluded to see how we move on from here. [SurreyBaggie - in case my name goes AWOL again].

simmo54

Sobering thoughts from GMac. "There have been a lot of things going on around the place and a lot of things that no-one really knows about" is a worrying statement in itself. Ringing endorsements for Keith & Dean with Pepe taking a back seat? Is there a player power issue here? Is this why Pepe has stated (immediately after the match) that we need 8 or 9 players? The disconnect between the club and the fans is down to many issues emanating from the boardroom, but if we had got better performances and better results on the pitch would we be questioning every little thing and would the gap be so enormous? It looks certain from all view points that Pepe won't be here next season. I do feel that he has behaved with real dignity and hope that that the Club show him the utmost respect in how they handle his position from here on. The thing I would want most is one big overall of the playing squad and the behind the scenes set up. And one more thing TRUST and the return to West Bromwich Albion returning to being a family club again - okay so that's 2 things .....but I can hope can't I ?

BURNLEY BAGGIE

Breaking news Pepe has gone

CantelloRocket 78

We've had gossip, rumours, murmurs, yet very little 'official' information about what's happened behind the scenes, but when a player like Gareth gives us this kind of insight, you tend to accept his word-

G-Mac mentioned the club have 'got it right' in past seasons, but a variety of factors this term conspired to produce the equivalent of a nightmare.This being the case - and recalling an old TV interview with JP in which he said that he likes slow, steady progress - I'd expect him to now revert back to a 'solid', 'experienced', 'familiar', framework, which would unfortunately mean Pepe departing, thus aborting the 'Spanish experiment' before it's even been given the ingredients to make it fully operational - this would be sad, because I'd still like to see what Coach Mel could do with a full backing, but realistically I'd now be surprised to see it happen.

Mistakes appear to have been made at every level, but we all make misjudgments, what's important is to learn from the process of getting it wrong, then moving into a state of putting it right-

I'm sure we'll all be watching closely with great interest, and hopefully necessary rebuilding work will be starting immediately....

CantelloRocket 78

It looks like it's happened whilst I've been finishing my post-

talk about immediate action........

ELDERVO

Lucky ! He's got that right.

We Only Need One Half!

I think you will find Hyacinth, luck is losing a game you have to win on the last day of the season and still staying up.

That's luck!

solihullbaggie

Does that mean that our new coach will be able to explain that we play for 90 + mins and pass the ball to a team mate in the same kit?

BaggyBear

Too the jokers who wonder if its better to keep Pepe on, like G Mac said he cant speak english and even if he has a lot to offer in his native tongue it just seems it was too much to overcome, especially given the situation he was put in. Respect to the player, he hasn't stuck the knife in at all, just said it how it was. I'm pretty sure there's still a number of staff at the club who can evaluate the squad and who they need to keep, get rid of and recruit, not least it sounds two excellent coaches in Downing and Keily. Whilst MaCauley doesn't say it a net spend of less than £5million over 3 years is simply not enough for Premier League survival, much less progression. The Teams around us spend many times more, and even the relegated ones out spend us consistently - see link below its incredible!!!

http://www.transferleague.co.uk/premiership-transfers/west-bromwich-albion-transfers.html

For me the club have over achieved in every department the last few years, until now they've done well with coach appointments, and fthey've pulled rabbits out of the hat in the transfer market, kept an ageing squad going and the addition of Lukaku last year simply papered over the cracks.

clemsleftfoot

Gareth i respect your honesty, But if dean and Keith are to take some sort of "Thanks for keeping us up lads" out of this seasons fiasco.

They can ruddy well take some of the blame for the rubbish that's been churned out on the pitch as well.

Who coaches the defense to keep backing off and allowing the opposition all the time in the world around our 18 yard box ?

Who should take the credit for our superb passing to the opposition ?

Who should take the credit for the i don't care attitude ?

In all fairness they should be gone with Mel.