Rangers next manager will be one of two credible candidates - but one holds more appeal than the other

Kevin Muscat of Yokohama F.Marinos is vying with Phillipe Clement for the Rangers managerial vacancy. (Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)Kevin Muscat of Yokohama F.Marinos is vying with Phillipe Clement for the Rangers managerial vacancy. (Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)
Kevin Muscat of Yokohama F.Marinos is vying with Phillipe Clement for the Rangers managerial vacancy. (Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)
The process may have begun to feel protracted. But the nature of the conversations Rangers have been conducting over their next manager, by themselves, represent progress for the club.

Barring some late shock development, it appears that the successor to the sacked Michael Beale will either be Philippe Clement or Kevin Muscat. Encouragingly for the Ibrox club, both have much to recommend them. Above all, their profile suggests that among the Rangers hierarchy, lessons have been learned from last November. When, after what seemed anything but an exhaustive search, they alighted on Beale, essentially an untried manager in the first few months of operating in the coaching frontline.

The recruitment of the Englishman last November came with Douglas Park as chairman and Stewart Robertson as chief executive. John Bennett and James Bisgrove now occupy those roles, and it is as if these powerbrokers have made sure to centre their pursuit on individuals with trackside acumen that places them in sharp contrast to Beale.

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Clement and Muscat have earned hard-won reputations for producing enterprising and engaging football teams. Both boast title wins with two different clubs - the Belgian with Genk and Club Brugge, his Australian rival enjoying championship success with current team Yokahama F Marinos and before that at the helm of Melbourne Victory. Moreover, their methodology has been honed courtesy of taking charge of at least three different clubs. A little different from Beale taking Queens Park Rangers for 22 games before the offer arrived to return to Ibrox where he had been assistant to Steven Gerrard as an unbeaten league-winning campaign was masterminded in 2021-22.

On the surface, the 49-year-old Clement would appear to be the strongest candidate in the running. Belgian titles - of which he has three, after landing unfancied Genk the honour in 2019, before clinching the next two available at Brugge - have a greater value than Muscat’s successes. These coming in the form of two A-leagues with Victory and last year’s J-League (as his defending champions sit second with five games remaining of this campaign). Yet, as perverse as it may sound, that fact could make Muscat more appealing.

Clement is said to be desperate to make a splash in a European club - despite a moneybags offer from Saudi Arabia - to allow him to move on from Monaco dispensing with his services in June following 18 months in charge. But his desperation to make an impact with Rangers is sure to pale when set against the imperative for Muscat to make a fist of it at Ibrox as a consequence of the 50-year-old flunking out in his only other experience in this continent, which came with a thoroughly miserable six month spell at Belgian club Sint-Truiden in 2020.

Desperation can be a powerful fuel. And, knowing what is at stake for his coaching ambitions, this would propel Muscat’s drive at Ibrox in a manner not true for Clement. Any titles in Scotland would not be considered more shiny on the Belgian’s CV than those already there. Moreover, while knowledge of the local terrain won’t make Rangers’ faltering squad suddenly more adept, Muscat’s status as a 2002-2003 treble-winning player from his short playing stint at Ibrox, would ensure the intensity and demands of the post would hold no surprises for him. And, of course, his coaching route to Scotland served his mentor Ange Postecoglou well. As, it should never be overlooked, did the ability to lavish £40m-plus on transfer fees to overhaul the squad across his first year courtesy of the sums earned through Celtic’s player trading model. A luxury that will be denied Muscat or Clement.



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