QPR slumped to an 11th game without a win in the Championship following a goalless draw with Bristol City on Saturday.
Here are Dan Evans’ four takeaways from Loftus Road.
Cifuentes winning mentality shines through once again
Following last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Rotherham United, Marti Cifuentes was asked more than once if he was pleased that he had managed to help put an end to QPR’s run of six defeats in a row in his first game in charge. In one television interview, the 41-year-old Spaniard’s facial expression bordered on incredulity.
Cifuentes made it clear that he had come to the Championship to win games and would never be satisfied with a draw – even if elements of the performance from his new side at the New York Stadium had pleased him.
He made a similar claim following the draw with Bristol City on Saturday, admitting that there were parts of his Loftus Road debut that he had enjoyed but adding that the afternoon would only have been a success if he had helped the team to a first win since the start of September.
“The result was not enough according to what we want,” said Cifuentes. “But at the same time in the performance there were some small improvements from last week and that is what I’m looking for.”
Smyth gives Pring a torrid afternoon but is still lacking end product
Paul Smyth was QPR’s most dangerous attacker as he raced up and down the right wing on Saturday.
The Northern Irishman gave Bristol City left-back Cameron Pring a difficult afternoon, forcing him to commit five fouls as Pring was unsurprisingly booked for bringing down Smyth midway through the second half.
As much as the former Leyton Orient man’s rampaging runs excited the Loftus Road crowd, his lack of end product frustrated them in equal measure.
Smyth failed to pick out a team-mate from any of his eight crosses and when the opportunity opened up for him to go for goal at the end of a flowing move just before the hour mark, the 26-year-old blazed wide of the target.
Return of Colback and Dozzell creates midfield imbalance
Cifuentes explained post-match that the quality of Andre Dozzell and Jack Colback made it impossible not to bring them into the team against Bristol City after both had served suspensions.
The duo played either side of holding midfielder Sam Field in the middle of the park, and although they played their part in helping QPR limit Bristol City to very little in an attacking sense, both of them being predominantly left footed seemed to restrict the team’s ability to build attacks through midfield.
Colback, who was also guilty of giving away possession in his own half more than once, made way for Elijah Dixon-Bonner in the final 10 minutes and QPR had a far greater attacking threat from midfield in the closing stages.
Dixon-Bonner impressed in last weekend’s draw at Rotherham United when Dozzell and Colback were absent, but it was his first Championship start. The 22-year-old may lack the experience of Cifuentes’ other options in midfield, but given the situation QPR currently find themselves in, he may need to start gambling on the former Liverpool youngster sooner rather than later.
Lack of bite in attack overshadows improvements at the back
The headline statistics from Saturday’s game will show that QPR have now gone 11 matches without a win and their paltry goalscoring record this season now stands at just 11 strikes in 16 matches.
However, they also managed to keep a first home clean sheet since March and restricted Bristol City to just seven shots at goal with a combined xG of 0.44.
Even when the visitors came on strong in the closing stages, a defence that conceded 26 goals in 14 games before Cifuentes’ arrival managed to stand firm.
This meant it was QPR’s second-best defensive display of the season according to statistics, and it follows on from them limiting Rotherham to an xG of just 0.51 last time out.
Improvements in attack will also be needed if Rangers are going to have any chance of surviving relegation, but their newfound defensive organisation is at least helping them to pick up points.
PICTURES: ROB AVIS
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