Philippe Clement fires warning to Rangers players after win over Hearts and spells out 'big danger now'

The Ibrox boss was pleased to reach final but wants his team to keep eyes on prizes coming up

Rangers manager Philippe Clement has warned against complacency, reminding his players that beating Hearts in the Viaplay Cup semi-final was just another step on the road to hopefully collecting silverware.

The Belgian boss has had an impressive start to his Ibrox career and is unbeaten in five matches, winning all four of his domestic tussles. The latest triumph took Rangers into the December 17 final of the League Cup and moved them one step closer to winning that trophy for the first time in a dozen years. However, with work still to be done in the Premiership and European football back at the forefront this Thursday, when Sparta Prague come to Glasgow, he is demanding that the players keep their minds focused.

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“We want to continue like that and not go into a mode of satisfaction,” he said after his men turned in a 3-1 victory over Hearts at Hampden. “That is the big danger now. The players can be satisfied this evening and happy and enjoy that time with their family but from tomorrow I expect everybody to be focused again towards Prague. That is football. OK, we are in a final but if you are in a final, a semi-final or quarter-final, it doesn’t make a difference. In the end, it is about winning something. We are not there yet.

Rangers manager Philippe Clement celebrates victory over Hearts at Hampden.Rangers manager Philippe Clement celebrates victory over Hearts at Hampden.
Rangers manager Philippe Clement celebrates victory over Hearts at Hampden.

“On Thursday we have a really big game. We will miss a couple of players, we will also miss some players that I cannot select because they are not on the European list, that I didn’t make in the beginning of the season. It is again a puzzle and I expect everybody to be top because it is going to be a really hard game against Prague.

“We need to continue doing what we are doing with the ball and without the ball. I am most satisfied about that, the concentration and focus of the players in the last couple of weeks, towards every detail that we talked about with the analyst. It is a very important thing in football.”

Asked if he was surprised how swiftly he had seen a positive response to his appointment, the gaffer, who claims to critique himself on a daily basis in the hope of learning and evolving, responded: “I didn’t have expectations about that so then you cannot be surprised. You need to get to know the players, need to get to know everybody. I am still working on that because I don’t know all the players in every reaction they can have.

“I only see the players now when they have success. You also need players who are good when you have a disappointment. That is a very important thing in football. I am still in the observation period in that way but we see already after two weeks a lot of good football, a lot of chances, a team who is dominant. These things I want to see and we work on every day really hard. It has been more with video sessions the last couple of weeks because of the short time between the games.”

James Tavernier scored twice in the 3-1 win over Hearts.James Tavernier scored twice in the 3-1 win over Hearts.
James Tavernier scored twice in the 3-1 win over Hearts.

James Tavernier was key to the success against Hearts as he netted a penalty and then, after substitute Scott Wright had scored the second, the captain added the third to ensure victory. “I like a collective way of attacking with a lot of people and he’s important in that way on the right side,” added Clement. “He’s also a leader by example in the dressing room. But, it’s difficult for me to pick out one player. The very positive thing for me is that we have several leaders in the dressing room.”