Who is Marti Cifuentes? - a deep dive into QPR's new manager

Published on 4 November 2023 at 13:00

Queen’s Park Rangers have appointed their new manager, Marti Cifuentes, after previous manager, Gareth Ainsworth, was sacked on Saturday. The club relieved Ainsworth of his duties, after his side’s sixth consecutive defeat at home to Leicester City, with QPR sitting in 23rd place after 14 games.

Spanish manager, Marti Cifuentes, is the fourth manager to take the reins of the club in a year, hoping to succeed where previous managers Gareth Ainsworth, Neil Critchley and Michael Beale have fallen short. 


It was a relatively fast appointment, with rumours that QPR had been planning to hire Cifuentes for a while. The former Hammarby manager wanted to finish the season with the Swedish side, but a sixth loss in a row left the club with no choice but to speed up the process. 


The 41 year old manager left Hammarby in sixth place in the top tier of Swedish football, after his side conceded two late goals to draw 2-2 in his final game in charge.


Cifuentes’ appointment is subject to a work permit and he is expected to be in the dugout for QPR’s trip to Rotherham this weekend. 

What has been said about the appointment? 


QPR’s CEO, Lee Hoos said: “We are delighted to bring Marti in and I would firstly like to thank Hammarby for being fantastic to deal with throughout the process.


“Marti is an exciting appointment and we look forward to seeing the impact he can have. 


"Marti is someone we have been aware of so we are really pleased to have been able to secure his services.”


Cifuentes, in his first interview with the club, said: “It is a big honour to be in a club with a history like QPR.


“It is a big challenge but I think there is quality to move forward and I am happy to be here, and looking forward to starting this amazing challenge.”


Whilst looking into some QPR fan forums, it seems that there is an overlying level of optimism about this appointment, whilst other fans are debating whether or not it was the fault of the manager or the players. 

How does a typical Marti Cifuentes team play?


Cifuentes studied at the Johan Cruyff institute upon his retirement in 2010, with his playstyle being heavily influenced by the Dutch winger. 


Although the former Hammarby manager is no stranger to changing his tactics, his teams tend to adopt a 3-2-5 build-up in attack, which is a system favoured by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. 


This suggests he will want his new side to dominate possession of the ball whilst playing out from the back. 


Hammarby averaged a possession rate of 56.3% with Cifuentes in charge. They look to progress quickly, trying to create space and overloads further up the pitch.


In a recent interview, the new QPR boss stated that he will make “the three P’s” - possession, pressing and positioning - the foundation of how his new West London based side will play.


The Spaniard said: “You use possession as a tool and use the ball to move it and create chances, to create gaps. 


“We will try to have good pressing when we don’t have the ball, because we like to regain the ball quickly to create chances. 


“The last one and perhaps the most important one is positioning. As long as we have good positions on the pitch, we are going to get positions on the ball to execute the actions.”


Players such as Lyndon Dykes and Ilias Chair will be likely to get back to their very best in this system, with both players being very attack-minded and the freedom to play in this style will utilise both of their strengths effectively. 


It is likely that Cifuentes will need a significant investment in his starting lineup in the January transfer window to attract players that are more adapted to this style, but this complete switch-up from Ainsworth’s long ball tactics will be refreshing for the Rangers fans. 

How will this appointment work out for Queen's Park Rangers? 

There is a growing sense of worry amongst the club’s fans, especially with Cifuentes being the fourth manager in less than a year but there looks like there could be hope on the horizon for the Championship club.


His first step into senior management at third tier side UE Sant Andreu saw the 31 year old become the youngest manager in Spanish professional football. 


After travelling to Scandinavia in 2016, he took charge of Sandefjord in Norway, Aalborg in Denmark, before going to work for his previous club, Hammarby, in Sweden. 


QPR are stuck in a similar situation as Hammarby were last season, with the Swedish side having to sell eight of their starting eleven before the 2022 season. This can be seen as a positive for the Hoops, as the problem of the side struggling to invest with their financial troubles won’t be an issue for Cifuentes, who has been in a similar situation before. 


This might suggest Cifuentes will look into the youth system at his new club, which could create a new and exciting era for the Championship side. 


What should success look like for Marti Cifuentes? 


It is drastically important that QPR get out of the relegation places as soon as possible. Ever since their relegation from the Premier League in 2015, the side have been stuck in the Championship and have only finished as high as ninth in that time. 


Their game against Rotherham United will throw Cifuentes straight into the deep end, with the Millers sitting a point above QPR with a game in hand, making it a must-win game even this early into the season. 


QPR currently sit in 23rd place, six points adrift from safety in the division. To calm the nerves of the QPR faithful, the Spanish manager will need to string a couple of results together to push the side further up the table. 


If they can avoid relegation, a realistic aim should be a mid table finish this season. They have only finished mid-table or higher in three out of eight times since 2015, whilst most recently finishing 20th in the 2022-23 Championship division. 


Although there could prove to be issues with acquiring players in the next transfer window, a successful season would be finishing mid table or higher, with the aim of building on that position in 2024.


If the Spanish manager is given time to grow this squad, this appointment could prove to be very astute and positive for the club moving forward.


By Callum Burgess - https://twitter.com/Calstagram123 


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