Neil: See You Next Season

Neil Mellor says he has left West Ham on the best of terms - and anticipates playing against the Hammers for Liverpool in the Premiership next season.

"At the time when I arrived under Glenn Roeder I was very excited and appreciative of the move," says Neil, who was due to be on loan for the entire season when he arrived in the summer, but has now returned to his parent club.

"I have had some experience although it has not been as much as I would have liked; I have certainly improved as a player and hopefully I can bring that back to Liverpool."

Neil didn't have the best of luck with his fitness, and adds:

"I had quite a bad ankle injury which set me back a couple of months when I was just pushing on and beginning to play a bit better - unfortunately things didn't go the right way then."

Neil saw added competition arrive at the club in the shape of Brian Deane, Marlon Harewood, and Bobby Zamora - though Alan Pardew did want to keep Neil until the end of term, nonetheless.

"Alan Pardew has been great to me; he said he could have kept me at West Ham all season if he wanted to and just played me in the reserves but he thought he was being fair to me - and that is great," he says.

"It means I can come back home where my family is and everything like that.

"But everyone at West Ham has been dead friendly and really nice from the chef to the kit man - they helped me settle in really quickly so in the end it was quite upsetting to leave.

"I have had some very good times and probably one of the best times was at home to Crystal Palace in the league.

"I enjoyed that, as I did playing some games under Trevor Brooking, which was thoroughly enjoyable as well."

It was the Palace game in which he scored his two goals for the club; all in all he made 10 starts, coming on 12 times as a sub.

His last senior game was in the draw against Fulham at Loftus Road in the FA cup, and he says:

"It would have been nice to have had a good cup run with West Ham but unfortunately it wasn't to be."

He made a big contribution off the pitch, helping younger players such as Greg Pearson come on in leaps and bounds, and he says:

"Greg has scored a lot of goals this season and he is a similar sort of player to me, I would say.

"Hopefully he can progress and certainly step up now I have gone and hopefully knock on the first team door himself."

As to whether he is eligible to play for Liverpool this season, he admits:

"I don't know what the ruling is but I have trained and it was nice to see everyone - we will just have to go from there.

"The aim for the season for the lads at Liverpool is to get Champions' League qualification, which is well within capability.

"Everyone has been friendly there as always and as I say it was a bit upsetting to leave West Ham - but I did so on good terms.

"Everyone said goodbye to me which was nice and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time down at Upton Park - and wouldn't rule it out again in the future.

"I do hope that West Ham get promotion this year and I definitely think the squad is good enough, whether through a playoff place or automatically.

"With the run we are on at the moment I fancy us to sneak second - we are playing well and Saturday was a big result against Cardiff.

"I will be keeping in touch with a few of the lads and will be looking out for their results.

"Hopefully I will be playing against them next season - that would be nice."

He says Gerard Houllier will not be overly concerned about the criticism he is getting at Liverpool at the moment, and adds:

"I think the stick has been a bit harsh, to tell the truth, but all managers get it at some point."

He is now looking to inculcate a more sophisticated look off the field amongst his Anfield team mates, after, he reckons, being influenced by the boys at Upton Park.

"I got stick when I first went to West Ham so I added a few items to the wardrobe and brought them back up - and hopefully I can give them some tips about some proper, decent gear.

"I have certainly brought a fashion sense from down south but I did get a bit of stick for it at Liverpool on my first day back!"