SPL

Philippe Clement calls for protection for his players after Rangers’ shock loss

By Sports Desk March 02, 2024

Boss Philippe Clement claimed Ross McCausland was “kicked off the pitch” in the 2-1 defeat by Motherwell which dented Rangers’ cinch Premiership title hopes.

With the visitors leading through a Theo Bair strike, the Northern Ireland winger had to be replaced by Fabio Silva in the 35th minute after he was caught by Dan Casey after the Fir Park defender won a tackle.

Gers skipper James Tavernier scored from the spot on the hour but Casey’s 74th-minute header gave the Steelmen their first league win at Ibrox since 1997.

It was a first defeat in 12 games for Rangers and although they remain two points clear of Celtic at the top of the table, the Parkhead side get the chance to leapfrog them at Hearts on Sunday.

Clement confirmed beforehand that Oscar Cortes, on loan from Lens, would be out for “a long time” following the muscle injury picked up against Kilmarnock in midweek, with fellow wide-men Abdallah Sima and Rabbi Matondo also out.

The Gers boss said: “Ross is bad because he was kicked off the pitch. There was no foul, no yellow card, no red card.

“When I see how we’ve got red cards in the last few months – then I see this action – I don’t understand it to be honest.

“There is too much intensity. When you have to take a player off in the first-half because he can’t walk any more after contact, you need to realise something bad happened there. But clearly not.

“I didn’t think about the fact the same player scored the winning goal.

“I only think about the chances we had to score. I only think about my team and making it better.”

The Belgian boss would not directly say that Casey should have been red carded by referee Alan Muir, adding: “I am not a referee. And I know every word I say becomes a big thing always.

“I think players need to be better protected. We have now already several players kicked off the pitch this season. I think they need to be protected in a better way.”

It was the first points dropped at home by Clement since taking over from Michael Beale in October and he is expecting a positive reaction.

He said: “That’s the interesting thing now. I didn’t expect to have this moment after five months in the building. I thought it would be much earlier.

“Now I’ll get to know my team even better. I know them really well already. But now I’m going to see who’s going to be the guys to stand up after a disappointment.

“I don’t doubt it too much. They are very disappointed and a lot of heads are down. I’m disappointed too, not to get the three points.

“But you need to cope with it, take the right lessons and learn from it to become better. That’s our ambition now.”

Stuart Kettlewell was delighted with Motherwell’s performance but puzzled by Clement’s assessment of McCausland.

He said: “Everybody has got their own opinion. I don’t see it as kicked off the pitch as such.

“I’ve not seen a replay of the incident but at the time it was very close to me and Dan Casey looked 60-40 favourite, or maybe even more than that, to come through and get the ball.

“At the time I wasn’t seeing anything. The referee doesn’t even book him so it doesn’t look as if there was a foul. He was first man to the ball clearly so I’m a wee bit surprised [by Clement’s comments].”

On his side’s shock victory, the Well boss said: “We were asked plenty of questions, we were put under the cosh.

“We had to go into what I call emergency defending in the dying embers. We know that you are going to have to go through all that to get something here – you are going to have to suffer. Of that there is no question.

“When you come here that idea of just sitting in is never going to work. You need to carry a threat on the other side. That is what pleases me most.”

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