Preece: Tough at top but Micky can manage

Action from Fleetwood Town v Northwich Victoria.'Former Blackpool players and now managers Andy Preece and Mickey Mellon. PIC BY ROB LOCK
Action from Fleetwood Town v Northwich Victoria.'Former Blackpool players and now managers Andy Preece and Mickey Mellon. PIC BY ROB LOCK

SATURDAY’S FA Trophy tie between Northwich Victoria and Fleetwood Town looks a classic clash of the haves v the have-nots.

But don’t you try telling Northwich boss Andy Preece that his former Blackpool team-mate Micky Mellon has it easy as Town manager.

The pair shared the Bloomfield Road dressing room between 1995 and 1997, and Preece has nothing but admiration for the job Mellon has done at Fleetwood, however great his resources.

Ahead of the first-round encounter at Victoria Stadium, Preece told The Gazette: “The chairman at Fleetwood does back Micky but that doesn’t make his job any easier. A lot of clubs have thrown money at their team without success.

“The money has to be spent wisely and that is what Micky has done.

“The money has put pressure on Micky to deliver and he has done. He has taken that team from strength to strength.”

Preece has none of that pressure, having stood by Vics through thin and thinner since taking charge in May 2009, and he can take pride in his achievements in stabilising a club currently second in non-league’s third tier.

But that does not mean he never casts an eye towards Mellon’s Highbury exploits with a little envy.

Preece added: “Money does not guarantee success, and if a manager with money fails it is his fault, but it would be nice to have that backing and any manager who says he wouldn’t want his club to be in a better position financially is lying.

“I’d love a couple more players to push on and challenge Chester at the top of our league, and you can’t help but be a little envious, but I believe that if you keep doing well as a manager the opportunities will come.

“We have done really well this season, especially when you consider that eight of our regular starters were in the division below last season.

“That’s how we have to recruit – picking up the best players from that level – and it has been a fantastic effort by the lads so far.”

The gulf in resources will be on show at Victoria Stadium on Saturday, when Mellon is expected to rest most, if not all, of his first-choice side ahead of Tuesday’s FA Cup replay at Yeovil.

That won’t change Preece’s plans for the match, though.

He added: “It’s a good opportunity to test ourselves against the best team in non-league football.

“Wrexham may be above them at present but I’m tipping Fleetwood to win the league with the squad they have.

“We couldn’t have a tougher draw, whatever team Micky puts out.

“Obviously they have a massive match next Tuesday and an unbelievable draw against Blackpool, but I think Micky has the squad to field two teams in the Conference and have both do equally well.”

Vics have had to win through three qualifying rounds to reach this point, starting with victory over AFC Fylde, and Preece summed up: “We have enjoyed this cup run and have probably gone a round further than we expected. Now we can really enjoy it.”