Soccer

Philippe Clement claims Rangers can reach another level as they seek top spot

The Belgian took over the Ibrox hot seat last October after Michael Beale departed when the Light Blues fell to third, seven points behind Celtic.

Rangers manager Philippe Clement
Philippe Clement Rangers manager Philippe Clement (Steve Welsh/PA)

Philippe Clement insists Rangers can still reach another level as they look to go top of the cinch Premiership against Ross County on Wednesday night.

The Belgian boss took over the Ibrox hot seat last October after Michael Beale departed when the Light Blues fell to third spot, seven points behind leaders Celtic.

They then fell eight points adrift of the Hoops after a 2-1 defeat at Celtic Park in December but had two games in hand.

Rangers have worked their way back into serious title contention and a three-goal win over the struggling Staggies at Ibrox will see them go top for the first time since August of last season.

Clement has already put the Viaplay Cup in the Ibrox trophy room following a 1-0 final win over Aberdeen in December and has guided the Govan side into the last-16 of the Europa League.

However, the former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco manager was again at pains to stress that short-term achievement is not important, saying: “I will not look at the league table (if we win). No. I will be happy if we win the game, that is the only thing.”

“I am not satisfied, I think there is still a lot of potential to grow,” added the Gers boss, who revealed defender Leon Balogun, who has been fitted with a mask to protect a facial injury, will be assessed with midfielder Ryan Jack dropping out as his game time is managed following his recovery from injury.

“That’s why I am looking forward to having preparation with the team, to really bring them to another level.

“I am convinced it is possible with the players that are in the building now but it is difficult to create that during a season with a game every three days.

“We are growing, we are getting better, I think it is clear to everybody, it is also clear in the data.

“There is more distance run, there are more sprints and more high intensity than a few months ago but we are not at the top.

“It is what you do in training and in games and how you set standards and what you want them to do.

“We are not a reactive team, we are an active team and that’s what we want to see.

“We want to be a dominant team with a lot of movement with the ball and a lot of movement and reaction after losing the ball.

“With that way, naturally the data goes up, it does in every team. But you need a really good preparation to go to the next level.

“At this level now we are pushing things to make it better and I think it will be better at the end of the season – if they keep freshness.

“If I stay with the same squad, playing the same 11/12 players all the time they will be tired at the end of the season, that’s why you also need to keep a good balance.”