John Eustace: Birmingham City name new head coach to succeed Lee Bowyer

John Eustace was number two to Mark Warburton at QPR but left following the appointment of Michael Beale
John Eustace was number two to Mark Warburton at QPR but left following the appointment of Michael Beale

Birmingham City have named Republic of Ireland assistant manager John Eustace as head coach on a three-year contract.

Eustace, who began in management at Kidderminster Harriers, has spent the past three seasons as Queens Park Rangers assistant boss, first under Steve McClaren, then Mark Warburton.

The former Coventry City, Stoke City, Watford and Derby County midfielder, 42, retired from playing in 2016.

He succeeds Lee Bowyer, who was sacked on Saturday after 16 months in charge.

"I am very proud to be here," said Solihull-born Eustace. "Obviously, I am a Birmingham lad and I know the potential of the club and how important it is to the fans.

"We have underachieved in the past few seasons and a club of this size, with the support that this club has, need to be aiming higher.

"The first thing we have to do is get this squad competitive and ready for that first game of the season against Luton."

Eustace will now take charge of Blues' pre-season trip to Portugal in the next week.

He will have just under four weeks to prepare for the season opener with Luton Town at St Andrew's on 30 July.

Eustace is the ninth manager City's owners Birmingham Sports Holdings Ltd have appointed since they took control of the club as Trillion Trophy Asia in October 2016.

'First job is to strengthen squad' - analysis

BBC Radio WM's Birmingham City reporter Richard Wilford

"The appointment of John Eustace is merely the first of several pressing needs for Birmingham City with less than four weeks between now and their opening Championship game.

"They will hope to add to his coaching staff before the first-team squad head to a training camp in Portugal this week. Then there is the urgent matter of squad strengthening as Eustace inherits a group that is light on numbers, particularly at the defensive end of the field. They will likely head to the Algarve with no recognised senior left-back.

"And, above all, there is the continuing off-the-field drama with a partially closed stadium still awaiting the go-ahead for repairs to go ahead, and the uncertainty over the future ownership of the club.

"It may well be that the prospective new owners are firmly on board with the change from Lee Bowyer to Eustace ahead of the opening game at Luton. But until any deal to unseat Birmingham Sports Holdings is concluded it will hard for Blues supporters to gauge whether things are heading in the right direction at St Andrew's."