PREVIEW: Exeter City vs Bristol Rovers
BRISTOL Rovers coach Marcus Stewart says any inside knowledge he has on former club Exeter City may well be useless – because the only thing Mark McGhee can expect at St James' Park is the unexpected.
McGhee takes his side to face an in-form Exeter side tomorrow and will have development coach Stewart, returning to the club where he finished his glittering 20-year playing career in the summer of 2011, alongside him in the dugout.
Stewart, 39, spent the last four seasons of his playing days at St James' Park under Paul Tisdale – but he insists that the forward-thinking Exeter boss is likely to spring a surprise in his tactics that will probably render any advice he could offer McGhee redundant.
"Regardless of what I know, Paul Tisdale is very unpredictable in the way he plays," said Stewart, pictured.
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"He could play three at the back or he may surprise you with something else. You just never know.
"We know Exeter are going to try to pass the ball and, at some point, they will control the game and look to dictate the tempo, but the biggest threat will be their unpredictability.
"Even when they change formation and personnel, which Paul does a lot, they are still able to maintain a level of performance and that is one of their greatest strengths."
Tisdale is considered one of football's most coveted up-and-coming managers on account of the fine job he has done in returning Exeter to the Football League during his six-year spell at the club.
"I wouldn't say Paul has only made a contribution to improving that team over the years; he's played a massive part in moving all aspects of the club forward," added Stewart.
"He's done a great job and has had many opportunities to move on to bigger things.
"The time has never been right for him to do that, but I'm sure that he will go on to do other things in the long-term.
"Everyone at Exeter will be delighted that he is still there because he is a fantastic organiser, a great coach and a brilliant man-manager. Paul is a major part of that club and I can't speak highly enough of him."
Meanwhile, McGhee, who added firepower to his squad in the shape of strikers Derek Riordan and Tom Eaves yesterday, will be hoping to see his side win for the first time this season.
He said: "Garry Kenneth's return at the heart of defence has given us a bit of added stability throughout the side.
"With the addition of the two new boys up front, the squad is certainly looking a lot stronger.
"Winning at Exeter is a tough ask, however, as they are possibly one of the most experienced teams in League Two. Most of their players are in their late 20s to early 30s and then they have a 37-year-old up front in the shape of Jamie Cureton.
"That is a huge amount of experience in comparison to our team, which is one of relative inexperience.
"We are two different teams in that we are building a team with both the short and long-term in mind, whereas they are already a very mature team."