PREVIEW: Bristol Rovers vs Northampton Town
MARK McGhee believes the departure of Mustapha Carayol to Middlesbrough over the summer may be one of the reasons that Bristol Rovers have failed to carry their impressive home form of last season into the new campaign.
McGhee managed to instigate an unbeaten nine-game run at the Memorial Stadium after succeeding Paul Buckle last January – but has yet to see his side win at home in five attempts this season as part of a disappointing start to the campaign in which Rovers have only managed to win one of their nine games.
When McGhee was asked to put his finger on why a squad of players similar to the one he had last season was finding wins hard to come by at home, he said: "We have similar squad with one exception and that is we haven't got Mustapha Carayol here now.
"He was fantastic during that period of games last season and was at the heart of those performances, so we've missed him, there is no doubt about that.
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"We desperately wanted him to stay because of the impact he had during that spell where we were dominating teams at the Memorial Stadium."
Carayol scored three times for Rovers during that run towards the end of the season to catch the eye of Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray ahead of a summer move to the Riverside.
McGhee moved to replace Carayol by signing former Germany youth international Fabian Broghammer on a free transfer and has seen him produce encouraging displays in the three games he started.
"Fabian (Broghammer) was brought in to try and replace some of the pace we lost as a result of Muzzy's departure," said McGhee. "He has shown blistering pace at times and has done well for us, but he needs a lot more time to settle into the English game.
"It's not easy to replace a player like Muzzy, who has started well in the Championship and is worth six or seven hundred thousand pounds."
Rovers, meanwhile, are offered an opportunity to win their first home game at the sixth time of asking when Northampton visit the Memorial Stadium tomorrow.
McGhee said: "It is another tough game for us.
"Any team that has (Adebayo) Akinfewa playing up front will always pose you a danger. I went to see them play Gillingham the other night and he was looking fitter than I've seen him in a long time. I thought he was excellent and our lads will have to stand up to him."
"What we have to do is remain positive and focus on what we are doing, however, because I don't think our first win at home is that far away.
"The sooner we do it the better because I think there might be some nerves around the longer it goes on. The last couple of performances at the Memorial Stadium have been a lot better than the ones we produced against the likes of Oxford or Morecambe earlier this season."