Neil's Learning Curve

Neil Mellor admits he didn't expect to go through three managers in three months at Upton Park - but is using the experience as a learning curve.

"It has been strange, but to be honest I have had some decent managers here; Glenn Roeder was brilliant to me, really nice, and then Trevor did a good job so hopefully with Alan coming in he can take the side into the Premiership which is where we want to be.

"Everyone has different ideas and Alan has his so I am looking forward to working with him more closely to see what they are.

"He is putting new things into the club and we had a little meeting so the players are aware.

"I am sure Alan will bring his own personnel in and there will be competition for places which can only be good for the club.

"He has got a good squad here, albeit a small one, and I am looking forward to seeing who else comes after Hayden and Robbie which is all good for the promotion push."

Neil didn't get much chance to make an impact on Wednesday, coming on as he did with just a few minutes remaining against Forest, but he remains positive.

"It is always difficult to come on so late," he admits "but he threw me on and there was always a chance that something might have been created that meant I could have stuck one away - but it wasn't to be.

"It is disappointing to be on the bench but I did come on on Wednesday so at least I was involved.

"We will see what the manager does next; if there is an injury, not that I want there to be one, you get a look-in and things change quickly."

As for three draws on the trot at Upton Park, he says:

"It is strange but the main thing is we are unbeaten at home and we want to remain that way for the rest of the season.

"Hopefully we can keep that up and turn the draws into wins while now we have three tough away games coming up.

"Obviously we beat Cardiff in the Coca Cola cup, or Carling cup as it is now, and if we can repeat the 3-2 win that we did we will be more than happy with that.

"We are fifth in the league, only four points off the top, but we have to start turning the wins into draws now.

"I thought the lads did well on Wednesday, though; it was a fantastic goal which put the ahead but we had some fantastic chances that didn't go in again.

"Hopefully, if we can get a good result at Cardiff we can go to Spurs full of confidence - you just never know on the night."

Cardiff begins a trio of trips, of course, with Spurs sandwiched between Ninian Park and Coventry - one of his dad Ian's old clubs - and Neil adds:

"Any team that has three away games on the trot is going to find it tough but it would be nice to beat Tottenham for the fans, that's for sure.

"If we can win a couple in the league that would be nice as well, but Tottenham is a one-off, we know it has got to end on the night, and we hope we are going to entertain the supporters that we take there.

"A good cup run would help; look at another first division side, Sheffield United, who had two good cup runs last season.

"They finished well but hopefully we can go one better and finish in the top two, which is the main objective."

Meanwhile, of the Cardiff game, Alan Pardew says:

"Lennie Lawrence will have his team well organised and in Earnshaw they have a player who has scored bundles of goals."

It is, in fact, 15 - over double Jermain Defoe's tally - but despite this, not many West Ham fans, one suspects, will agree with Lawrence's pre-match assertion that Earnshaw can become a better player.

More likely to find favour, though, is his statement that J is the "only top six Premiership striker in the first division."