‘It is not a big secret’ – Marti Cifuentes reveals how he is getting the best out of Chris Willock for QPR

QPR boss Marti Cifuentes says there is nothing complicated about the way in which Chris Willock has returned to form for QPR in recent weeks.

The attacker has scored in three consecutive games after netting in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Hull City, helping his side to victory on each occasion, having only made three league starts before Cifuentes took over as head coach at the end of October.

Rangers are now just two points from Championship safety in no small part thanks to a delightful Willock strike that gave his side the lead against the Tigers at Loftus Road.

“It shows the quality he has but I’m not surprised by it,” said Cifuentes when asked about the 25-year-old’s performance.

“I said from day one when I arrived that Chris and Ilias [Chair] need to be very important for us.

“I am pleased about him recovering his smile because I felt in the first game against Rotherham he was a little low on confidence.

“Now he is playing at a level where it is not easy to take the ball away from him, he’s working really hard when we don’t have the ball and he is starting to be decisive in the last third.

“He’s a player with his quality and his potential, that can score more goals than he has done earlier in his career.”

Willock started the game against Hull on the left wing having previously played both centrally and on the right in Cifuentes’ first few games in charge.

Chair played inside him in a central position, and the pair linked up for a goal as they did in last weekend’s 2-0 win at Preston, with Willock this time turning provider to set up the Moroccan international’s second goal of the season midway through the second half.

“They like to play together,” said Cifuentes. “With Ken [Paal] as well they like to play on that side and we knew that could be an important tool for us today.

Picture: Rob Avis – QPR vs Hull City, 9th December 2023, SkyBet Championship

“What I like from them is that Ilias can play inside or as a winger, we can play Chris on both wings or even centrally.”

“The important thing for me is to build those relationships that are growing by themselves in training and at the same time use them in the right moments of the game.”

Willock’s ongoing return to form has seen him score in three straight games for the first time since August 2022, when he led an early-season promotion charge under then head coach Michael Beale.

The Arsenal academy graduate has since suffered with ongoing injury problems and was out of favour under previous boss Gareth Ainsworth.

“Give him minutes and give him confidence with game scenarios where he we think he can be good,” said Cifuentes when asked how he has got the best out of Willock.

“At the end of the day it is not a big secret, if you have good players and you put them on the ball, high on the pitch, things are going to happen, and I think that is what we have seen with Chris today. When those players are close to the goal it’s difficult to stop them.”


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