Marti Cifuentes says he always had faith in Chris Willock

Posted Sunday, December 10, 2023 by PA

Marti Cifuentes says he always had faith in Chris Willock

QPR boss Marti Cifuentes insists he never doubted Chris Willock would rediscover his best form.

The rejuvenated Willock scored the opener in Rangers’ 2-0 win at home to Hull – a thumping strike from near the edge of the penalty area.

It was his third goal in as many matches and his team’s third win in a row.

They have lost just one of their six matches since Cifuentes replaced the sacked Gareth Ainsworth.

Previously Rangers’ talisman, Willock was shunned by Ainsworth while fellow playmaker Ilias Chair, who scored the all-important second goal against the Tigers, also found the going tough under the former boss.

“He (Willock) showed the quality he has. But I’m not surprised – I said from day one that Chris and Ilias will be very important for us,” said Cifuentes.

“I’m pleased about Chris recovering a smile, because I felt he was a bit low on confidence.

“That was very natural when a player has not been playing for a while. Now he is playing at a level where it’s not easy to take the ball from him and he’s also working hard when we don’t have the ball.

“He’s starting to be decisive for us in the last third and I think he is a player that, with his quality and potential, he can score more than he has done earlier in his career.”

Asked how he has helped Willock get back to his best, Cifuentes replied: “Give him minutes and give him confidence. And give him game scenarios where we think he is going to be good.

“It’s not a secret. If you have good players and you put them on the ball and put them high up the pitch, then things are going to happen. When those players are close to the goal it’s difficult to stop them.”

Hull boss Liam Rosenior admitted his team were punished for their mistakes.

Willock’s goal, scored in first-half stoppage time, came after the visitors had lost possession.

Back-to-back defeats have seen the Tigers drop out of the play-off places following an excellent start to the campaign.

And Rosenior said: “We’ve made a lot of progress, but the next step for this team is to be pragmatic in key moments and understand the context of the game.

“At that point of the game we had complete control and then gave them a goal. It was a great finish from Willock but it comes from our possession.

“A goal just before half-time changes everything in terms of QPR’s confidence levels and energy from the crowd.”

The second goal came after Hull keeper Ryan Allsop had been pressured by Sinclair Armstrong, with Willock collecting the resulting loose ball and teeing up Chair for a cool finish.

Rosenior said: “I ask my team to play, but at that moment we’re on top – just kick the ball and if it goes out for a throw-in then we reorganise and get control of the game again.

“What I will never do is blame players for mistakes. But what I will do is demand from them that we learn from the mistakes.

“There’s so much good in the way we play, if we iron out those mistakes then we’re in a really good place.

“This is the understanding of where we are as a team. We’re a young team that have to learn on the job. But the basis of our play is very good.”


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