Philippe Clement speaks on 'four pillars' for Rangers squad and fan synergy as club reveals sporting director timescale

Rangers new manager Philippe Clement has admitted that repairing the fractured relations between the club’s fans and the playing squad he has inherited will be pivotal to reviving the fortunes of the Ibrox side.

The 49-year-old Belgian refused to place limits on the potential silverware outcomes for the rest of the season with Rangers still fighting on four fronts, despite their Premiership title prospects handicapped after just eight games. It is a consequence of the Belgian – who claimed championships in his homeland with Genk and Club Brugge – taking the reins at Ibrox from the sacked predecessor Michael Beale as bitter rivals Celtic hold a seven-point league lead over them. In the job discussions held with club legend Graeme Souness as well as chairman John Bennett and chief executive James Bisgrove, Clement says there was a general acceptance ending the hostility from the stands towards those on the pitch is a must for rebuilding the shattered belief of a group to which he is willing to give a “clean sheet of paper” – even as the faithful will struggle to afford them such latitude.

“I want to win everything – that’s the mentality I have when I step into a building and I want to give this to the dressing room and create more and more winners,” said Clement, whose initial target will be to lift the League Cup with a semi-final against Hearts in two-and-a-half weeks’ time. “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 long-time with players we can make them better. I had really interesting talks with Graeme and the board on that 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.

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"It can also go really fast with this squad when they get confidence and the fans are behind them. It’s a really important thing in this club when the fans are behind you, this 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 that the fans understand that, and know how much power they have when they go behind players in a positive way.”

Philippe Clement says he is not a "magician" but the new Rangers manager still believes a positive impact can come "really fast" in his Ibrox tenure. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Philippe Clement says he is not a "magician" but the new Rangers manager still believes a positive impact can come "really fast" in his Ibrox tenure. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Philippe Clement says he is not a "magician" but the new Rangers manager still believes a positive impact can come "really fast" in his Ibrox tenure. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The performances that Clement can draw from his Rangers personnel over his opening stretch of games will determine the mindset that the club’s fanbase take over his tenure. They will be apprehensive over his suggestion that salvation cannot be secured simply by ripping up the current squad and starting again beginning with the transfer window. The Ibrox side’s fourth manager in two years bullish he can extract from the current pool more than they have exhibited in the past 14 months by focusing on “four key pillars”.

“I was part of [conversations about transfers in the January transfer window and in the summer, but] I like to see first what potential is there already,” Clement said. “I don’t want ten new players every year and make lots of changes. I want to find the key to get the best out of people. We want to use the next weeks and months to do that in the best way. With me every player starts with a blank piece of paper, maybe not with the fans but that's a different conversation. They'll all get the chance. It is important to be aligned with the sporting director and have the same ideas about football. If it is someone who has totally different ideas about football then it does not work, we spoke about that also in the process.

"It is good that everyone is aligned, and we had really clear conversations about that. For me, there are four very important pillars in the way I want to see the team. I want to create, in the club, the best technical team, the best tactical team, the best physical team, and the best team mentally of the league. That is what I want to create over the next couple of months. I know if you do that, then results will follow. But I know it is a lot of work.”

The bugbear from the support is that the work of the board has not yet led to the appointment of a sporting director/director of football. Bisgrove hinted that this situation could be resolved swiftly, in terms of the timescale he set out. “[It is] the next few weeks, if not months,” he said. “We’re having live conversations at the moment. There are variables depending on the individual the board believe has the best fit. I believe it will be imminent. It will be a club board appointment, but Philippe will absolutely be a part of that process and we will make sure he meets whoever that is before we make that decision, and that person will add additional value and expertise and leadership to the recruitment function.

“We currently have John Park at the top of that division. We have made some changes to the scouting function recently; we have modernised some of the processes in terms of data and video analysis and I think we have been more strategic on how we have set that up and Philippe will have a say on that as well. It is a decision the board will take on a long-term football strategy to make sure we have really robust processes around decisions we make right across the football department.”



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