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  • Writer's pictureBy Kaz Mochlinski

Brilliant night for QPR - but will Cifuentes stay to continue the rebuild?

On a memorable night for Queens Park Rangers, when they secured their survival in the Championship for a 10th successive season, there was a significantly disappointing postscript as Marti Cifuentes declined to unequivocally commit his future to the club.

After a fine 4-0 win over promotion-chasing Leeds United in The R’s last home match of the season, their inspirational head coach was asked directly about speculation linking him to other clubs, but he avoided confirming that he would stay at Loftus Road.

Very pointedly, Cifuentes responded by stating: “I have nothing to say. I’m very focused in tonight’s game. I’m very focused now to enjoy [this result]. And that’s what I’m looking for.”

The 41-year-old Spaniard will undoubtedly be in demand after rescuing QPR, who were 23rd in the table and had just suffered six straight defeats when he replaced Gareth Ainsworth at the end of October.

The R’s have won nine and lost only four matches since mid-January, with now two successive home wins taking them up to 16th place, seven points clear of the relegation zone - and level on points with London rivals Watford and Millwall.

“Look, I came here and perhaps I was a bit crazy thinking I was very sure we could make it the great escape. So I think we managed to do the great escape," the Spaniard said.

"I believed that those players had more in them. And I think that they show it.

“Not only tonight. Because tonight I think that it’s just a little bit closing the circle. But over the last month we have been through difficult moments. And the team was keeping not only the togetheness but the belief that we could make it.

“All the credit to them. Because we did it. Not only we achieved it, but we achieved it in a certain way, which for me is very important. Of hard work, of dedication, of being honest on the pitch. [However, now is the] time to keep on pushing.”

Before that, Cifuentes will allow his players a proper celebration of retaining their Championship status, which began with a post-match lap of honour applauded by almost all of the home fans in the 16,677 crowd.

“First of all, target achieved. That was the main thing," he said "And second, of course, a fantastic evening. A fantastic way to close the circle.

“I know that the season is not over. We have a last game against Coventry. But definitely a special night at home, with our supporters, against a very good football team. So it was a very, very good night.

“I think that tonight is going to be a very long night for a lot of people, I guess.

“First of all, I enjoyed the start. Because I think that’s something that we have been working on and talking a lot with the players that we would like to start the games really, really strong, at home especially.

“Then, second, to see an identity in the team, because we play against a very good football team. I think we should have / could have kept the possession a little bit longer in some periods.

“But still we saw the braveness, both in the way we wanted to build up, in the way we wanted to attack, even in the last minutes of the game, trying to press high as we could against a very good football team.

“That’s the thing I’m very pleased of. And then of course the togetherness. The connection with, the atmosphere of the supporters was amazing.”

If Cifuentes does stay at QPR, a big factor will be his popularity among the fans, who unfurled a pre-game banner praising him, and then sang his name throughout the match rather than those of players on the pitch.

The coach in turn underlined his appreciation for their backing: “As far as I know it has been again sold out. And, as far as I’m concerned, the atmosphere has been unbelievable since I came here.

“I don’t know how many sold outs we got, both home and away. I remember West Brom at home with the Stan Bowles night was a fantastic evening. But I think the fans have been unbelievable since I came here.

“And I think today everybody felt that, with the result, with the performance, it could be a special night, to achieve our target. And I’m very happy for them, because they have been important contributing to achieve the target.”

It will encourage QPR’s supporters that Cifuentes mentioned planning for next season several times. It will equally worry them significantly that he then repeatedly became very vague about the specific details.

“You know, I said when I came here that, first of all, when we could win football games - that is unfortunately not every weekend - we should celebrate it, we should enjoy it. And that’s what I’m going to do.

“Enjoy tonight’s victory, because it means a lot. Then, if you ask me about the future, I think that there’s going to be time to sit, to analyse, to be very humble, because today all of us we’re very happy and it’s easy to get a little bit carried away.

“But there’s a lot of work to be done in the future. And I think we need to remain humble and understand that there is a lot of things that we can do better.

“I think that QPR is a strong brand, enough to attract a lot of players. It’s not only about tonight’s performance, though hopefully it can help. But it’s about building that strong identity, that is with the history of our club that tries to play attacking football; that has a fantastic fanbase; that has top training facilities.”

Cifuentes emphasised: “I am very happy, because it’s true that we have been playing certainly at a good level against some good top teams. But again I think that we need to remain very humble.

“It’s a long way to achieve the level that we want to achieve, the standards that this club should have. And, in that sense, I think that today has been a very good performance. But there’s a lot of work to do.”

For The R’s, there has to be hope that he will continue to supervise the team’s development.

Yet some nagging trepidation is unavoidable that he may be keeping himself open to better offers.

“My target as I said is enjoy tonight. Long-term I will think from tomorrow.”


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