Scottish Daily Mail


New Rangers boss sure he can inspire side and be a long-term solution


WATCHING a new Rangers manager walk through the wood-panelled door of the Blue Room used to be a rare event.

Yesterday, it was witnessed for a third successive season. After the sackings of Giovanni van Bronckhors­t and Michael Beale, the obvious task facing Philippe Clement is to deliver success through stability.

And, consequent­ly, to ensure that old door remains closed for the foreseeabl­e future.

Striking a calm, confident presence at his official unveiling within Ibrox, the 49-year-old Belgian offered some carefullyc­hosen insights on how he will go about it.

There was no bluster or bombast. No great projection of ego. Just the assured presence of a manager who has been over the course before and created title-winning teams. Someone, clearly, well versed in leading from the front.

Even when a final question from broadcast journalist­s respectful­ly sought his thoughts on Monday’s terrorist outrage in Brussels, Clement quietly issued an appeal for a positive outlook on humanity during deeply

We talked about stronger mentalitie­s. It can go fast with this squad

difficult times. Football, he stressed, lacked importance beside such issues. But football is his job. And it’s one he will tackle with a defined ambition.

Trophies are the eventual, unarguable aim for a club that has floundered in the Premiershi­p ever since Steven Gerrard’s success of 2021. To climb back on the podium, however, a structure is required. While it will take time and the right raw materials to construct, Clement has a clear vision in mind.

‘For me, there are four very important pillars in the way I want to see the team,’ he stressed. ‘I want to create, here in the club, the best technical team, the best tactical team, the best physical team, and the best mental team of the league.

‘That’s what I want to create. That’s my ambition. If you do that then results will follow, but I know it is a lot of work.’

A seven-point deficit to Celtic presents Clement with an awesome task in this season’s title race, but he can point to a track record of improving teams.

Even at Monaco, where he was sacked in June, he took them from ninth to third in his first six months. Giving up on prizes — or picking and choosing between them — is not in his nature. Slowly but surely, it’s about rebuilding a connection with the support left broken by successive, bitter disappoint­ments under Beale.

‘I already told you I want to win everything. That’s the mentality I have when I step into a building,’ said Clement, when asked about his aims.

‘I want to give this to the dressing room and create more and more winners.

‘We’ll work really hard to get silverware as fast as possible. How fast it comes? I don’t have a crystal ball, I’m not a magician.

‘I know if we can work a long time with players, we can make them better. We talked about that a lot. How to do it?

‘It was a really interestin­g talk with Graeme (Souness) and the board (during the interview process). To the point. Not only will we do it but how?

‘We talked a lot about the holistic way, of creating better athletes and football players.

Stronger mentalitie­s. It can also go really fast, I think, with this squad when they get confidence and the fans are behind them.

‘It’s a really important thing in this club. It gives so much energy and you become so much stronger in every sense as a football player. This synergy between fans and players is going to be one of the major points over the next couple of weeks. It’s about me explaining this to the players and doing the right things on the pitch.

‘I hope the fans understand that and know how much power they have when they go behind players in a positive way.’

A year as a player with Coventry City elevated Clement’s command of English, which was sometimes used as the language of choice for dressing-room briefings at Club Brugge. Communicat­ion will not be an issue. Picking the right messages is, of course, every bit as important as the vocabulary with which they are delivered.

For Clement, an initial challenge will be to raise confidence within a squad left bereft of the stuff by the disintegra­tion of Beale’s tenure and fan anger.

Saturday’s debut in charge against Hibernian gives Ibrox a chance to see if any immediate improvemen­ts have proved possible.

‘It is about putting the right goals towards games and (laying out) the right things the players

have to do,’ continued Clement. ‘And I want players who are also not afraid to fail and make mistakes because that is part of football.

‘There is not one team in the world who are perfect in everything they do, but they react correctly to mistakes. Those are things to work on.

‘We do not have much time. We will see the team for two days and then we have the game, so I do not expect it to be perfect yet. ‘But out of that, we can work on the things that are good and not so good to make things better. ‘It’s not science; it’s logical things and those are normal for me. We need to get all these things in place.’ Beale, of course, spoke about ‘taking the handbrake’ off — only for Rangers to end up with smoke streaming from the engine and hazard lights flashing.

Clement’s triumphs with Club Brugge and Genk lend his statements more substance. He is clear about a front-foot approach being essential.

‘I want to play dominant football,’ he insisted. ‘I did it at my first team, SK Beveren. They played against relegation and we also played dominant football with them.

‘In the beginning, it was pushing the players because nobody believed that would be possible.

‘But I saw they had the qualities to play attacking football with interchang­ing positions, people creating space for others, but out of a good structure.

‘You don’t want too many transition­s and stupid goals because you’re not thinking about your structure. Outside of that structure — attacking football.

‘I just work day and night really hard with the players to get the best out of them. Then you need to get results on the pitch.

‘Sometimes, you have lucky days. Sometimes, you have unlucky days.

‘I am somebody who looks past that. I know with the way of working that it needs also a bit of time to implement everything. That is normal also.

‘Sometimes, it comes fast and, sometimes, it takes a little more time. In the end, everywhere, there were the results, the good games. I know it will come.’

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 ?? ?? Focus: Clement is out to improve on Van Bronckhors­t (inset, left) and Beale (inset, right)
Focus: Clement is out to improve on Van Bronckhors­t (inset, left) and Beale (inset, right)

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