Watford hold early talks with QPR assistant John Eustace over becoming Hodgson successor

QPR coaches Mark Warburton and John Eustace

Watford have approached their former player John Eustace over the prospect of him replacing Roy Hodgson as manager, a report claims.

Hodgson recently confirmed that this season would be his last as a Premier League manager. With Watford’s relegation since being confirmed, they will need to find someone else to try and lead them back into the top-flight.

The club have gone through a vast array of head coaches during the ownership of the Pozzo family. Now, they are ready to make another change.

And the man they are currently favouring has limited managerial experience of his own. According to the Daily Mail, Watford could appoint John Eustace.

A former midfielder who made 168 appearances for the Hornets between 2008 and 2013, Eustace has been cutting his teeth in coaching since retiring in 2015.

First, the ex-Derby County player took the reins at Kidderminster Harriers in 2016. In each of his two seasons in charge, he led them to the National League play-offs.

Then, in 2018, he got the opportunity to become assistant manager at Queens Park Rangers, under Steve McClaren. He remained at Loftus Road as caretaker manager after McClaren left in 2019 and stayed on after the appointment of Mark Warburton.

Back in March 2022, the 42-year-old also took the role of Republic of Ireland assistant manager.

But now he could be ready for a managerial role of his own again. According to the Mail, Eustace has held talks with Watford over the prospect of him being added to their shortlist of successors to Hodgson.

Watford want to go for a homegrown manager and are also considering Wigan Athletic’s Leam Richardson and MK Dons’ Liam Manning.

All are much younger coaches than the last two Watford have gone for. Neither Claudio Ranieri nor Hodgson were able to steer them away from the relegation zone.

John Eustace pursuit a calculated risk but could swerve Watford trend

John Eustace at a Queens Park Rangers match

Ahead of their rebuild, Watford are looking into a different profile of appointment. Eustace’s past with the club as a player may make him an interesting candidate to consider.

That said, there would be an element of risk in handing the reins to someone who has not led a club since his caretaker stint for QPR between April and June 2019.

Eustace has been working through his coaching badges since, though, and his journey as a manager must start again somewhere.

Knowing Watford, he will have to make a good impression to stand a chance of keeping the job long-term. No manager has completed a full season in charge of them since Javi Gracia in the 2018-19 campaign.

But if Watford are willing to give Eustace time, it would be interesting to see what he can accomplish.

Before that, there are still several steps to take until Watford can firm up an appointment.

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