Modest Philippe Clement deflects Rangers praise as he gives verdict on first taste of silverware

Rangers manager was quick to make sure his players hogged the limelight

Rangers manager Philippe Clement sought to ensure the praise was directed at his players after the Ibrox side lifted the League Cup for the first time in more than 12 years with a 1-0 win over Aberdeen.

Clement has inspired a stunning change in fortunes to lead the team to a trophy just nine weeks after taking charge. Rangers are also now only five points behind Celtic at the top of the Premiership and have two games in hand, the first of which is against St Johnstone on Wednesday.

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Rangers’ attempt to eat further into Celtic’s lead will be aided by an elated home crowd after James Tavernier’s winner against Aberdeen at Hampden. The skipper was one of several stand-out performers as Clement’s side overcame opponents who did not play to their potential. Whether it was down to tiredness or stage-fright, Barry Robson’s side failed to rise to the occasion.

Philippe Clement celebrates Rangers' success.Philippe Clement celebrates Rangers' success.
Philippe Clement celebrates Rangers' success.

Rangers were deserved victors but had only one goal to show for their superiority, which meant there were some nervy moments towards the end. Although Clement enjoyed the victory to the maximum as he celebrated with fans after the final whistle, he later stressed to reporters that the players – and backroom staff – were the ones who deserved the credit. “It’s not about me, it’s about the players,” said the 49-year-old. “They’ve done it. I didn’t kick one ball, or do one sprint or one tackle. It’s been the players.”

He hailed match-winner Tavernier, who added the League Cup to his list of Rangers honours. “Tav has showed really good quality in the last couple of weeks, he has been one of the leaders in the group to push, to perform, to be important, to take responsibility in every moment," he said. "He has never been hiding when we wanted to play, he has been important with assists and goals. We need to continue that.

“We have done it together with a lot of people, with the players, the staff,” he added. “It’s not only me. I’m the one who speaks a lot to you guys, but there are a lot of people in the dressing room working hard with the players and doing the right things. I’m a guy who needs more of a helicopter view to see if things are going well – that’s going to be my role in the next couple of months.”

Rangers fans are fond of mentions of helicopters since it brings to mind Helicopter Sunday, the name given to the day Rangers won the Premiership title after they beat Hibs and leaders Celtic suffered a last-day defeat at Motherwell in 2005. Whether Clement can inspire Rangers to overhaul Celtic at the top remains to be seen. The Ibrox side are five points adrift with two games in hand. They were seven points behind having played the same number of games when he arrived in October.

“It's a different story,” he said. “This week was a sprint, all or nothing (v Real Betis) for the Europa League or the Conference League, although we knew we would have something. This (v Aberdeen) was really a sprint, all or nothing. We managed to do that really well.

"The championship is a marathon,” he added. “It is a long period. We need to focus on one thing in a marathon and that is on ourselves, not the people in front of us or behind us. That doesn't matter. It's about us. It's about getting that rhythm and pace. That is the only thing we can do. And then you can ask these questions two or three games before the end and we can start to talk. But there is much to do."