SPL

Philippe Clement urges Rangers to rediscover their composure for Hearts cup semi

By Sports Desk April 20, 2024

Philippe Clement is adamant under-pressure Rangers will focus fully on playing to their own strengths in Sunday’s Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final with Hearts.

The Ibrox side head into the Hampden showdown on the back of a damaging run of two wins from their last eight games in all competitions, with their cinch Premiership title bid having been dented significantly by a return of just two points from their last three matches.

Hearts, by contrast, go into the match buoyed by back-to-back wins over St Mirren and Livingston and are 11 points clear of their nearest rivals in their quest to secure third place in the table.

Clement dismissed any notion that his side must adapt their game-plan in any way to deal with Steven Naismith’s on-form team and instead must simply attempt to play their own game to a higher standard than they have been recently.

“I don’t counter anything,” he said. “We will play our own game, we don’t need to counter another team.

“We are going to play our own game and believe in ourselves and show our qualities.

“To win we need a better performance than we had on Wednesday (in the 0-0 draw at Dundee), for sure. We need to do the right things against Hearts who have played a very good season.

“It’s a very interesting test for the players and I know they are all hungry to go to the final. They’ve had the experience of going to a final and winning it (the Viaplay Cup) and some of them have won several already so the mood is big.”

Clement felt some anxiety crept into Rangers’ play on Wednesday and caused them to go too direct, so he has called for them to rediscover their composure when in possession.

“Against Dundee we were too direct so we lost the balance in that way,” he said. “Sometimes we wanted to play too fast and it’s finding that good balance by showing it with images and what we need to do and take lessons out of that.

“Maybe the hunger was too big to go too fast forward. We need to find a good balance and do that in a better way against Hearts.”

Rangers have been subjected to ferocious criticism recently and Clement admits he will find out a lot about his players in terms of how they respond under pressure in the coming weeks.

“It is easy to be good and be happy when it goes easy,” he said. “It is when the going gets tough you see the personality and the character.

“Players can grow in this. It is a growing experience. It is not only from nature that you have this, you can grow in that.

“That is an important part of being part of this club. It is also something that Nils (Koppen, director of football recruitment) knows really well, it is something to look at in recruitment also.”

Related items

  • Leverkusen star Wirtz named Bundesliga Player of the Year Leverkusen star Wirtz named Bundesliga Player of the Year

    Florian Wirtz played a starring role for Bayer Leverkusen this season and has been named the Bundesliga Player of the Year.

    Wirtz scored 11 goals and provided a further 11 assists on the way to helping Leverkusen win their first-ever top-flight title.

    The forward was pivotal in Leverkusen’s title charge as they became the first German team to complete an unbeaten season.

    Only Victor Boniface has scored more goals than Wirtz this campaign, netting 14 times, while his tally of 11 assists is second only to Alejandro Grimaldo (13) across the Bundesliga.

    Wirtz came off the bench to score a hat-trick in Leverkusen’s 5-0 win over Werder Bremen in April which clinched the title with five games remaining.

    The Bundesliga champions still have the German Cup final on Saturday against Kaiserslautern, which follows the Europa League final against Atalanta on Wednesday.

    Wirtz played a critical role in helping Leverkusen reach their third European final, having been involved in eight goals in the Europa League this season (four goals, four assists), the most of any player in the team.

    He has also created 28 chances from open play in the competition, a tally only five players can better in a Europa League campaign, most recently Amin Younes for Ajax in 2016-17 (30).

    In all competitions, Leverkusen’s unbeaten run stretches to 51 matches, as they aim to finish an unbeaten season with a treble.

  • Kane injury doubt for England Euro 2024 squad Kane injury doubt for England Euro 2024 squad

    Harry Kane may be a doubt for England’s Euro 2024 squad as he continues to struggle with a back problem.

    Gareth Southgate is due to name his preliminary squad for Euro 2024 on Tuesday, ahead of upcoming friendlies against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland. 

    The England captain missed the final two Bundesliga games of the season after going off towards the end of Bayern Munich’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid.

    Thomas Tuchel confirmed prior to their final match against Hoffenheim that Kane was back in England to undergo treatment.

    When later asked again about the nature of the striker’s injury, Tuchel admitted that Kane had been struggling for a couple of weeks.

    "In Madrid, it was borderline. We tried injections and treatments. The back has completely closed.

    "It has gotten worse and kept breaking out in small, everyday movements. There's no chance he's even training."

    Kane scored 36 league goals in his debut campaign for Bayern, though due to the injury, he finished five adrift of Robert Lewandowski’s single-season goal record of 41, set in 2019-20.

    The final announcement of Southgate's 26-man squad will be revealed on June 7, ahead of the tournament opener against Serbia on June 16.

  • Pochettino prioritising continuity as Chelsea draw up transfer plans Pochettino prioritising continuity as Chelsea draw up transfer plans

    Mauricio Pochettino feels continuity will be key for Chelsea ahead of his second season in charge, ruling out the prospect of another clear-out at Stamford Bridge. 

    Chelsea clinched European qualification on the final day of the Premier League season on Sunday, a 2-1 win over Bournemouth ensuring they beat Newcastle United and Manchester United to sixth place.

    The Blues finished the campaign with five straight victories, the first time they have achieved that feat since doing so in March 2022 under Thomas Tuchel.

    A positive end to Pochettino's debut campaign has quietened talk of his job being under threat, and he wants to see evolution rather than revolution ahead of 2024-25.

    "Does the club need new signings? Always, you can improve," Pochettino said after Sunday's victory.

    "They are going to be much better next season because they will have one year of experience, a tough experience. 

    "That is the advantage of being solid and consistent and not making too many changes.

    "Next season, if we keep 80 to 85 per cent of the squad, for sure it is a big step forward because it is about having continuity in the ideas and the knowledge between them. That is important for the club.

    "That is a club decision. Like it was from the beginning, we [the coaching staff] are going to be there to help and if not, we are going to do our job."

    Chelsea only lost one of their final 15 matches of the Premier League season (nine wins, five draws), with that defeat coming by a 5-0 scoreline at Arsenal in April.

    Only Manchester City, Arsenal (16 each) and Liverpool (12) won more Premier League games than Chelsea's 10 between the turn of the year and the end of the campaign, with their total of 43 goals in that time ranking them fifth among all teams in the division. 

    Chelsea's overall tally of 77 goals in 2023-24 was their third-most in a Premier League season, behind only their title-winning campaigns of 2009-10 (103) and 2016-17 (85).

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.