THIS season is not yet over but manager Micky Mellon has already lost count of the approaches he has received from players wanting to join Fleetwood Town in the Football League in 2012-13.
It adds extra motivation for those Town players out of contract this summer to end the season on a high at home to Luton on Saturday and cement their place in Mellon’s plans for League Two.
Mellon said: “There are always people coming to want to play for this club but I have had an unbelievable number of players approaching me. Those who are holding those jerseys don’t want to put a question mark in people’s minds.”
Those words of warning reveal Mellon is still angry over the performance of his Conference champions at Cambridge last Saturday, when a 2-0 defeat ended their 29-match unbeaten run one game short of the record set by Crawley 12 months ago.
However, the manager suggested the uncertainty over contracts could have been a factor in a rare disappointing display.
Mellon told The Gazette: “I think that match was always going to be difficult with so much going on behind scenes and people coming out of contact.
“We have a lot ut of contract in the summer but we won’t be resolving any contract issues until after the final game.
“There is a lot of uncertainty and maybe it’s understandable for players’ focus to go a bit when the pressure has been taken off (with the title already secured the previous Saturday).”
Even so, Mellon stands by his strong criticism of last weekend’s display.
He added: “We have not become champions without having high standards. If players don’t reach those standards they will be questioned and quite rightly.
“As long as I have been manager, Fleetwood Town has always been about maintaining a consistently high level of performance, and too many were below par and nowhere near those standards on Saturday.
“They are a terrific group and maybe people on the outside think we are being harsh, but we are all harsh on ourselves and that is what has made us champions.”
“The players have done fantastically this season but they know that football is all about the now and about the next game.
“But it’s a difficult time of season to manager because there’s a lot of speculation about players, and about one in particular.”
That was a reference to 33-goal top scorer Jamie Vardy, who many expect Town to cash in on over the summer.
Mellon said: “I’ll wait and see what happens with Jamie. I’m hearing the same rumours as everyone else, but for now he continues to be paid by us and so has to perform for the people who are paying.
“What matters to me is that we get a reaction on Saturday. I’m sure we will because the players know I’m not happy and we have to put on a show against Luton”
Luton will arrive at Highbury requiring a point to make certain of a play-off place after being held to a goalless draw at Gateshead last night.
*The presentation of the Blue Square Bet Premier champions’ trophy following Saturday’s match will start a busy week of celebrations for Town.
Highlights include a civic reception at Marine Hall on Monday evening and a gala dinner in the Parkside Suite at Highbury on the Friday night.
School visits with the trophy are planned throughout a week which reaches its grand finale with an open-top bus parade through the Town on Saturday week, starting at Highbury at 2pm.
The Players will then join supporters in Jim’s Bar at the stadium for the FA Cup final followed by the player of the season awards.
Of the school visits, club communications manager Derick Thomas said: “
This community involvement clearly shows the promotion is as much for the people of Fleetwood and surrounding areas as it is for the football club.”