'Not respectful': Philippe Clement hits out at Brendan Rodgers’ comments

Clement was unhappy with Rodgers' claim Celtic can 'have a bit of fun'.

‘Not respectful’: Philippe Clement hits out at Brendan Rodgers’ comments SNS Group

Philippe Clement accused Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers of disrespecting his Rangers side with his “can have a bit of fun” comment ahead of next week’s Old Firm game at Parkhead.

The Gers boss was speaking after the 4-1 home win over Kilmarnock which returned the Light Blues to within three points of their city rivals with three fixtures remaining.

After Celtic’s convincing 3-0 win over Hearts at Parkhead on Saturday, Rodgers looked ahead to the visit of Rangers and said: “We can have a bit of fun.”

Clement was not impressed.

“That it is something that I would never say about an opponent,” said the Light Blues boss, who confirmed centre-back Leon Balogun went off at half-time with an injury which will be assessed in the next few days.

“But okay, we will see. It’s not really respectful towards my team. That is what I think. So I will never say things like that about an opponent.

“I am looking forward to that (game) and to be honest as a manager I would love that it was tomorrow instead of next week – but that is maybe not so good for my players.

“We are really hungry for that game. Six months ago we were seven points behind and now we are three points behind and we can go equal. The team has already done a lot of steps and now it is about making the next step.”

It was quite an afternoon at Ibrox. Gers skipper James Tavernier scored an own goal after 12 minutes then had a penalty saved by Killie keeper Will Dennis after defender Joe Wright was sent off for the offending handball.

Portuguese attacker Fabio Silva levelled in the last of eight added minutes at the end of the first half before second-half substitute Ben Davies scored his first Gers goal in the 62nd minute with further goals from substitute Tom Lawrence and defender John Souttar.

Clement insists he did not need the evidence of the comeback win against a fourth-placed Killie side who will play European football next season to know his side “are going to fight until the very end”.

He said: “I didn’t need that game today for that. I spoke about that also last week and spoke about that also after Dundee.

“We were all disappointed about the two results and that’s what the team did. For me that’s the basic of being a team and becoming a good team, is to never give up.

“The team did that already several times and they know they can do it. We will go on with that mindset until the last second of the season.”

Killie boss Derek McInnes believes the result and sending off was a “bit harsh” on his side but admitted they could have defended better at times.

He said: “I thought 4-1 was harsh on us. We had a couple of VAR checks but it was dealing with the directness of Rangers and I don’t think we defenced the space between the defence and the keeper as well as we could have done.

“But any time Rangers played in front of us we were absolutely fine.

“We showed good personality to get in front against the odds and scoring the first goal is magic for confidence.

“But the game changes on the sending off. We got ourselves in a bit of a fankle.

“It is the whole thing about double-jeopardy. There is no doubt it hits Joe’s arm. I think it is accidental but it stops a goalscoring opportunity.

“Penalty? Yes. A sending off, if that is the rule that is the rule. I don’t think that is the right rule. I thought it was extremely harsh given the circumstances.”

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