Steve Cook: We want to shake off the mentality of celebrating survival at QPR


QPR defender Steve Cook is already looking to achieve greater things at Loftus Road after the west London club secured their Championship status for next season.

An impressive 4-0 win against promotion-chasing Leeds United at the end of April ensured survival.

Players, coaching staff and supporters came together after the final whistle to celebrate the achievement but Cook made it clear that no-one at the club is getting carried away.

“It was more of a relief, to be honest,” he said. “We want to shake off that mentality of celebrating survival. It was enjoyable but I wouldn’t say we had a lot to celebrate.

“It was a fantastic performance. A huge relief that we’ve managed to get through this season and keep the club in the league, and now hopefully we can look up and avoid this sort of season again.

“It’s been a really tough season – mentally and emotionally. When you look back on the season it’s been a success with the start that we had, a lot of change in the background.

“The club is in a kind of transition phase and this year it was a must to stay up.

“I’ll look back on my career, and say it was huge success for myself and the team staying up, but I wouldn’t say there was too much of a celebration.

“I’m hoping next year we can build on the months we’ve had with the new manager and especially Friday night, we want to create more nights like that but with a different celebration rather than relief.”

Cook, who signed for QPR last summer when Gareth Ainsworth was head coach, was quick to credit current boss Marti Cifuentes for helping the club avoid relegation.

Rangers were six points from safety when Cifuentes arrived in October, and an upturn in performances was eventually followed by improved results.

It took until February for QPR to move out of the relegation zone but Cook explained that the Spaniard’s impact was immediate.

“From his first meeting, you could tell he knew what he wanted,” he said. “He changed the style quite quickly, put some new foundations in and added layers on to it over the season. We had a sticky period around Christmas time – every team goes through that.

“Our form since January has been extremely strong and he’s been terrific, very intense along with [assistant head coach] Xavi [Calm] and all of the staff that were already here.

“He managed to galvanise a bit of a fractured squad and club and we’ve not really looked back.

“The manager wants things done right. When we lose, we know about it and how we need to improve. There’s no sweeping it under the carpet. We have a meeting every day, where we address the good and the bad. That’s why we’ve managed to improve and bounce back after bad results.

“He wants to play front foot football. This year, we haven’t been able to do as much of that as he would have liked. I think the fans saw the brand of football he wants to have [against Leeds].

“The longer he’s here and the longer he has to work with less pressure, we’ll see a big change for next year. Hopefully dominating more games and scoring more goals.”

A key component of QPR’s improvement under Cifuentes has been their defensive solidity.

Despite spending most of the season in the lower reaches of the league table, Rangers have conceded fewer goals than play-off contenders Southampton and Norwich City, and one more than automatic promotion winners Ipswich Town.

In terms of xGA (expected goals against), QPR have the second-best record in the Championship since Cifuentes was appointed.

Cook, who was recently voted Supporters’ Player of the Year, has been a key part of this solidity in defence alongside regular centre-back partner Jake Clarke-Salter – who won the Players’ Player of the Year award.

“Jake’s an extremely talented defender – very aggressive, very good on the ball,” said Cook.

“I think with myself having a bit of experience next to him, he’s really flourished since we’ve played together.

“We’ve bounced off each other, we get on well together. It’s an extremely good changing room of players, we all socialise and do things together and I think that’s a massive key to a successful team.”

Although Cook has completed both his UEFA A and B Licence coaching qualifications, and plans to get involved with coaching in the QPR academy next season, he is still hoping for more success on the field.

The 33-year-old played a key role in promotion-winning seasons at both Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, and he does not think repeating the trick at Loftus Road is out of the question.

“It’s always got to be the ambition,” said Cook. “I’ve seen plenty of players at my age get to the Premier League.

“I’m extremely excited about next season and what this club can do. The Championship is a league where anyone can beat anyone, and anyone has a chance of being successful.

“I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully I can get another promotion with this club.

“I don’t think we’re too far off being a team that can really push on next year. Hopefully it’s going to be really exciting times for everyone at the club and the supporters.”

CopyBet is the official betting partner of Queens Park Rangers FC. Visit CopyBet.com


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