Marti Cifuentes has steered QPR to the cusp of Championship safety – but they must avoid complacency

3 min

Back-to-back wins over the Easter period may have moved QPR closer to Championship safety but Marti Cifuentes must urge his side against complacency.

An injury time Jimmy Dunne winner against relegation rivals Birmingham was quickly followed by an impressive 1-0 win at Swansea to lift the Hoops to 16th in the table, six places above the drop zone. 

But with six games remaining and only six points clear, there is likely to be more twists and turns to a relegation fight that still mathematically includes up to and including 12th-place Bristol City.

While QPR have worked hard to ensure their destiny is in their own hands, the next two games, against relegation rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth Argyle, are arguably the biggest of the season.

The key to QPR’s turnaround of fortunes under Cifuentes has been their home form, with Loftus Road becoming something of a fortress as the side have lost just once in their last seven.

A home win against Sheffield Wednesday would take them 10 points clear of the Owls with even a point minimising damage ahead of a tricky trip to free-falling Plymouth.

Yet with head coach Ian Foster relieved of his duties following the Pilgrims’ 1-0 loss to Bristol City, now may be the worst time to face the Devon outfit as they look for an upturn in fortunes with Director of Football Neil Dewsnip and first-team coach Kevin Nancekivell taking charge.

READ MORE: Rejuvenated and refreshed Chris Willock ready to fire QPR to Championship safety

Lying bottom of the Championship form table, they are a squad lacking in confidence – having failed to score in their last five home games with the last two also seeing them failing to register a single shot on target.

If QPR were unable to gain a positive result in at least one if not both of these next two games, they will once again be looking over their shoulder with the remaining four games against top-10 opposition all harbouring some form of promotion aspirations.

QPR should be buoyed by their own form and performances though, currently lying seventh in the Championship form table for the last six games played with their closest relegation rivals Stoke City in ninth.

What Cifuentes has brought to W12 is a defensive stubbornness and resilience which has turned into a propensity for scoring late goals and clean sheets in order to eke out vital results.

Speaking after the Swansea win, head coach Cifentes was keen to focus on his side’s set-piece improvements as part of this recent success, saying: “For me, the most important thing is the progress.

READ MORE: QPR need to make Loftus Road a fortress in their Championship survival fight

“When I arrived, they (set-pieces) were a big issue – unfortunately, the team was conceding a lot and it is something the team has struggled with for a few seasons.

“So far, there has been an improvement, not only when we defend set pieces but also when we attack as well, we are starting to create more chances.

“This shows the progress the team is making and we need to keep on because it is not over.”

The appointment of Cifentes has so far been a masterstroke which has ultimately provided QPR with much-needed stability and an edge over their relegation rivals – an edge that will guarantee safety if they manage to hold their nerve and remain focused on their own upward trajectory.

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