Rangers appointed Philippe Clement as their new manager on a three-and-a-half-year deal on October 15. The Belgian became the 19th manager in Rangers’ history and replaced Michael Beale who was sacked after just ten months in charge. CEO James Bisgrove interviewed candidates in London, alongside Rangers legend Graeme Souness who was also involved in the process.
According to Nieuwsblad, Clement turned down a €15 million offer from Saudi Pro League side Al-Shabab as the opportunity to manage Rangers was too difficult for the 49-year-old to turn down. Clement was successful during his time in Belgium winning three consecutive league titles, one with Genk and two with Club Brugge.
He joined AS Monaco in January 2022 who were ninth in the league at the time and guided the side to a third-place finish but was dismissed from his position last season as they finished sixth and missed out on European football by two points. Speaking to Rangers’ website, Clement spoke about what his management approach and style of play will be like:
“I want to see a playing style that is created about scoring goals, about being dominant, about winning also. It is about being well structured, but with the ideas forward to attack but also have a lot of changing of positions with the players. In the beginning, you need some time because it is not natural but the moment, it starts to work then you get more fluid football, and you get a lot of goals.
“I am a football animal, so I have watched all the games from this season over the last couple of days, it has been busy. I have started to get to know the staff, of course you need a period to get to know everybody, and then it is about aligning everybody together to be one strong family who wants to work hard to get great results.”
Belgian Football Consultant Scott Coyne told Sky Sports News that Clement is a winner and knows how to deliver success: “Rangers are getting a proven winner both as a player and as a manager. He’s won numerous Belgian titles as a player and of course in recent years those three consecutive titles as a manager with Genk and Club Brugge. I think he has the mentality to come into this environment and absolutely grab it by the horns. He understands the need to win and win big.”
“He’s familiar with coming into clubs that are in a degree of disarray, restoring a sense of order and getting them firing again. He’s used to getting results quickly. [Clement’s] style of play is predominantly a possession-based game, but he likes his sides to play a high line and looks to get in behind and draw the opposition out to create that space in behind.
“The challenge he’s going to have in Scotland is a lot of teams will play against Rangers with a low block so there’s a number of different ways of finding that space. I think there are players in that Rangers squad who would excite Philippe and who would fit his system.”
“He’s very good at getting the best out of players and making it very clear what he expects of them. He is well known for keeping things clear and simple with players and instilling a strong sense of standards. It’s about a discipline element and I think that’s important when you’re coming to a club of this size.”
Former Rangers player Thomas Buffel played with Clement for the Belgium national team and as a player under him at Genk, believes that Clement will be used to the pressure and expectations as he experienced the same when he was manager of Club Brugge, he said to BBC Scotland:
“He has different skills. He brings structure and clarity. His teams play good football but don’t lose the physical side of the game. It’s important you have that combination. The pressure will be similar because at Club Brugge they expect to win every game, every title and qualify for the Champions League every year. Sometimes players collapse under that pressure. As manager you have to protect the players and coach them, so they are able to perform at Ibrox.”
Rangers kicked off the Clement era in style, taking on a Hibernian side that was unbeaten in their last six matches, and winning 4-0 via goals from Cyriel Dessers, Nicolas Raskin, and a brace from Abdallah Sima. They drew 0-0 at Sparta Prague in the Europa League before conceding within five minutes to Hearts’ Lawrence Shankland. A James Tavernier penalty in the 90th minute would see them equalize at Ibrox, whilst substitute Danilo scored in the 93rd minute to secure another victory.
Clement’s side sit five points behind Celtic in the league table, three above St. Mirren, who have a game in hand, and they will begin November with a trip to newly promoted Dundee FC, who sit fifth in the league table.
By: Scott Bradley / @ScottBradleyX
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Ross MacDonald – SNS Group