'He was massive for us': Former Philippe Clement charge gives detailed insight into how Rangers manager works

Berge played for Belgian at Genk and believes Ibrox outfit have come up trumps with appointment

Philippe Clement has been handed a ringing endorsement by one of the men who knows just what he is capable of.

Describing the Rangers manager as “an exceptional coach”, Burnley’s Norwegian midfielder Sander Berge hailed him as the man who can deliver the league trophy to Ibrox. “For sure,” said Berge. “He’s huge. It’s a big club for him to take over but he has a lot of experience from his time at Club Brugge and Genk. He knows what it’s all about. I think his fighting spirit and passion – he wants to win every game – suits British football and especially the Scottish league and a team that is known for winning a lot.”

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There has only been one title win in 12 years, though, with city rivals Celtic dominating but Berge, who won the Belgian league with Genk during Clement’s stewardship, believes there will be a shift now that his former gaffer is on board. “He’s got very good man management,” the midfielder continued. “He’s a top guy and knows how to find the strengths of a team and improve that. He builds a team that doesn’t have many weaknesses.

Sander Berge played under current Rangers manager Philippe Clement at Genk.Sander Berge played under current Rangers manager Philippe Clement at Genk.
Sander Berge played under current Rangers manager Philippe Clement at Genk.

“He was massive for us. We won the league with him and he played a huge part in my career. He’s very good with the players and I think he will do really well for Rangers. I could tell he really lived for football. He was always looking for improvements and was always thinking about it. He was also very good at including the players in his thinking. He had a good relationship with the players and that’s massive. He got the best out of us. He’s very hard working.”

That strong emphasis on fitness underpins his desire for the high-press. “You have to be in shape all the time,” continued Berge. “He’s always demanding a lot, but he brought the best out of us. He’s an exceptional coach with a huge belief in hard work and determination. That will give them a huge boost for sure.”

When Clement took over at Genk, he inherited a young side with raw abilities but helped hone those skills and brought in the players needed to complement that, according to Berge. “He managed to bring in experience and the mindset of how to win games. That was the key because the talent was there but it was a squad that lacked that bit of experience to take the final step. He just knew what we needed.”

A massive influence on Berge, who also won the Belgian Super Cup before moving to Sheffield United and then Burnley, he said Clement’s strength is in teasing the very best out of his players and sides. “It was massive for young players to win a league title and play in Europe,” added Berge. “We had [Roman] Malinovsky of Ukraine, also Mbwana Samatta who went to Aston Villa, Joakim Maehle, who played for the Danish national team, so we had a lot of international players but we were still quite young.

“I was still 19/20 but he got a 25 or 30-year-old version out of me and I think that says a lot. It’s a skill in today’s world to get the best out of players when there are so many different nationalities but he brought us together. He created a family environment, where we all were ready to work.”