Published: 25-05-18

25-05-18 - News - Eustace leaves for QPR and MacFarlane takes over hours later

Would you believe it? I’m on my way back from a holiday in Italy and when I board the plane in Milan all is well with the Harriers. Drive all the way home from Luton and I get into the Hereford Worcester radio area and hear the news that John Eustace has left his position as the Harriers manager to join Colin Gordons bestie, Steve McLaren, at Queens Park Rangers as his sidekick.

I reach the other side of Bromsgrove to then hear that Neil MacFarlane has been named as the new Harriers manager. Err, what happened to my application form then and hundreds of others too?

John Eustace
John Eustace
Out with the old

So what do we make of this cut and dried fait accompli then? I don’t know much of what has gone on in the last week while I’ve been away but before I left the silence from Gordon concerning our second failure to gain promotion was deafening and had already sewn the seeds of doubt about Johns future at Aggborough. There had been a mention on the message board from someone claiming him to be linked with the QPR job following McLarens appointment as their new manager last Friday so we had already been pre-warned.

Eustace was the captain of the Derby County side when McLaren was in charge there many moons ago so they both obviously had an understanding of how each other worked and McLaren has been to many Harriers games in a spectator capacity due to his friendship with Colin Gordon so they have no doubt talked things over many times. It was always going to happen one day that Eustace would leave the club to go on to better things and to work with his former boss was always going to be on the cards.

During his time with us, following his appointment in June 2016, he had seen us through 104 games winning 56 of them and taking us to the play-offs twice after finishing 2nd in 2017 and then 4th in 2018. Sadly we failed at the first hurdle in both our play-off games against Chorley FC and then Bradford Park Avenue a few weeks ago.

22 draws and 26 defeats are the other stats during his time here but a manager is judged on his successes and to fail to get us promoted with his ‘young and fearless boys’ was never going to go down too well with Colin Gordon or the fans. We all wish him well at Loftus Road but he’ll only be there as long as McLaren is there and that may not be long term.

Neil MacFarlane
Neil MacFarlane
In with the new

Now what do we know about the instant replacement Neil MacFarlane? Not a lot really.

He’s been with us before but most of us blinked and missed it. It was when Gordon took over the reigns for his first caretaking stint between Gary Whild and Dave Hockaday in September 2015 and he asked MacFarlane to help him out for a couple of games.

He has played out most of his footballing career in Scotland with the likes of Hearts and Aberdeen so has a decent pedigree there. Since hanging up his boots he has been an assistant to Steve Pressley at Coventry City and Fleetwood Town and got sacked at both and then followed his mate to Cyprus to help manage Pafos FC. He has now gone his own way and returned to the UK to take charge at the Reds for the coming season.

It’s doubtful that he’ll change the way we play the game because he’ll have to adhere to the existing playing style of building from the back and playing all eleven players back at corners. No doubt we’ll also still be hearing the infamous young and fearless quotes after every defeat.

At least he’ll have 99% of last seasons squad to work with – only James Pearson is yet to resign for us – and he’ll hopefully be able to add some new faces of his own choice to the squad. He’ll also have a full pre-season to work with his new charges and that can only be a good thing. We wish Neil well too.

The next question is where does this all leave Matt Gardiner?

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