QPR assistant manager, John Eustace, believes it’s important to ‘let the emotion out of the game’ in order to focus on the smaller details.

With so much to look at during a game it’s important for coaches to focus on detail, explains QPR assistant and UEFA Pro Licence candidate, John Eustace.“The first thing to do is to let the emotion out of the game,” says Eustace, who was discussing the experience of coaching from the touchline whilst on the UEFA Pro Licence course at St. George’s Park.

“Mark [Warburton, QPR manager] will be on the touchline, he'll be directing instructions and I’ll try to sit back and take the emotional side out of it and try to look at it a little bit deeper.

“Then anything I think I can help Mark with, or anything that he wants information on, I'd like to think that I'm in a good place to do that.”

The former Coventry, Watford and Derby midfielder has been with the London club since May 2018 and believes a detached position on the touchline can help identify the small detail.

“During the game I look at opposition, changes of shape, where we might not be getting back into shape quick enough and areas that I think we might be able to exploit - little things like that. If Mark does ask for my opinion, I at least want to be able to give him some good feedback and hopefully help out as much as I can.”

QPR assistant manager, John Eustace (left) shouts instructions from the dugout whilst QPR manager, Mark Warburton, watches on.
Eustace (left) joined QPR from Kidderminster Harriers, firstly assisting Steve McClaren and now Mark Warburton (second from left). Image: Joe Toth/BPI/REX.

After Eustace’s playing career finished in 2015 due to injury, he transitioned to the dugout with Kidderminster Harriers.

The experience gained from his first managerial role - he led the National League North side to the play-offs twice – has been invaluable to his current position.

“I had to retire due to a serious knee injury. I didn't really have that much time to reflect on it - which is probably a good thing - because I was offered the opportunity to go to Kidderminster,” says the 40-year-old.

“It gave me a fantastic opportunity to develop as a coach and as a manager and learn the other side of football - managing players, managing above, looking after budgets and recruitment, which I probably wouldn't have got if I had gone into a 23s system or gone straight into being an assistant. That experience left me in great stead.”

Nothing fazed me and I enjoyed the challenge 

After performances and results caught the eye of his former manager, Steve McClaren, Eustace took up the offer to join him at QPR in 2018.

With the side struggling for form towards the end of the 2018/19 season, Eustace stepped up to become caretaker manager, using his experience on and off the pitch to help secure Championship status.

“Those last seven games were really challenging but I think because I had managed already, I was prepared properly. Nothing fazed me and I enjoyed the challenge.

“I think we had won one in the previous 15 games and we ended up getting seven points out of the last seven to be able to stay up. So, I was quite pleased with my achievement there.”

John Eustace, during his time as QPR caretaker manager, shouts instructions to his team from the sideline.
Eustace steered QPR to safety, ending the 2018/19 season 11 points clear of the relegation zone. Image: Andrew Fosker/BPI/REX.

Along with his club duties, Eustace has also been working towards his UEFA Pro Licence recently taking part on the ‘communicating with confidence’ and media modules.

During his time on the course, Eustace has faced challenging scenarios in an acting workshop, listened to a variety of managers in the professional game and gained insight into the world of Kevin Taylor, a former hostage negotiator.

“It was fascinating, listening to how he [Kevin Taylor] works, the level of pressure that he's under and how he deals with certain situations. I'll certainly be taking aspects from that to help me at QPR.

“The whole course has been a fantastic experience. Meeting five or six top managers, listening to their journey on how they've come through the system and their pathway, it has been a fantastic learning curve for me.

“Dean Smith, Nathan Jones and Gareth Southgate [who all spoke on the course], they’ve all had ups and downs and have talked about how they've come through it and what they've taken from it. So, it has been good.”

QPR assistant manager, John Eustace, answers questions in front of a camera as part of a UEFA Pro Licence module at St. George's Park.
Eustace faced questions from the press during a Pro Licence media day at St. George’s Park.

Candidates on the Pro Licence also got the chance to visit a range of high-performance environments to gain best practice from other organisations at the top of their respective fields.

Eustace says that the key learning point he gained from his visit, was the importance of working on small details.

“I went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and that was great.

“It’s all about leadership and how they're trying to develop leaders. The amount of training and the specialist training that goes into that, they can't afford to make any mistakes in the detail going into that, to make top leaders.

“I've taken that into my football environment as well. We've lost games through very small details and it's very relevant because if you miss the small details when learning to be a leader in the army, then you're going to lose lives.

“It's not the same but obviously you're going to concede goals and not score goals from very small details as well. So, they shared that details are the most important things to work on.”


Article image courtesy of Ryan Browne/BPI/REX.


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