Marti Cifuentes jokes that Pep Guardiola inspired switch to four centre-backs in Swansea City win

Marti Cifuentes never had any concerns about playing Morgan Fox at left-back in QPR’s 1-0 win at Swansea City on Easter Monday.

Charlton academy graduate Fox regularly featured at full-back during his time at the Valley but he has been used exclusively as a central defender by QPR this season – and made his first league start since September in South Wales.

With Jimmy Dunne retaining his place at right-back, Rangers effectively fielded four centre-backs as a second-half goal from Steve Cook secured a valuable three points.

“Fox in his career has been playing more as a left full-back than as a centre-half,” explained Cifuentes, who was forced to replace regular left-back Kenneth Paal due to illness.

“It is true that we have mostly been using him as a centre-half, but he has this capacity to understand both positions and give good performances.

“For us, it was more about understanding that he has been in a good moment, playing so well and training so well. The minutes he has been giving us from the bench have been very good.

“According to the game we could expect, with a lot crosses, it was a very good chance [to use him]. There are a lot of games, and we need everyone.

“Ken [Paal] has been playing a crazy number of minutes, one of the most In the team for outfield players, so we thought there were a lot of reasons to give him [Fox] the opportunity that he deserves.”

The win at Swansea came just a day after Premier League title-chasers Manchester City and Arsenal had cancelled each other out using similar defensive approaches.

Pep Guardiola also regularly selected four centre-backs in defence last season as City picked up four major trophies, but Cifuentes revealed that his approach involved more complex thinking than simply copying his fellow Catalan.

“If Pep does it and he always wins, then the rest want to do the same,” laughed Cifuentes, when asked about the newfound popularity of the tactical trend.

“Usually, it doesn’t work the same. But jokes aside, I think it is about using the skills of the players.

“Fox for us has mostly been a centre-back but has played most of his career at left-back. He can consider himself as a left full-back, but another type compared to Ken.

“Ken is another type of full-back. He’s more of a passing full-back – he can play more inverted.

“Ziyad [Larkeche] is a very deep full-back. Ken is more inverted. Fox is probably more of a defensive full-back.

“With the strikers, we have Sinclair [Armstrong] who is extremely fast. We’ve got Mike [Frey], who is more of a target in the box profile, and then we’ve got Lyndon [Dykes], that is a bit in between and can do a bit of everything.

“I think it is about using the skills of the players in the right way. Sometimes, we make the right decisions, and it works, especially when we win, and when we don’t win… [I am a] bad coach and on to the next. That’s how it is.

“I believe a lot in teams. In the long run, sometimes, if you get lucky and you have good players, you can win a game through a single action, but over a season of 46 games, I believe in having a good squad and getting everyone involved.

“[You have] to understand that everyone is here for a reason and if they are ready to deliver, there is going to be a moment where we need different skills.

“It’s a part [of coaching] that I enjoy but what I enjoy the most is the togetherness this can create in the squad.”

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