Clement won't think about goal difference until last day of title race

The Rangers boss says he sends his side out to score goals in every game.

Rangers manager Philippe Clement insists he won’t concern himself with the possible importance of goal difference in the title race – because he sends his side out to score as many as possible in every game.

The Ibrox side defeated Ross County 3-1 on Wednesday to move level with Premiership leaders Celtic on points and goal difference and only a goal short of leapfrogging their rivals into first place.

The match had seen Rangers dominate the opposition and register 43 shots on goal, 23 of which were on target, prompting questions about the team’s ruthlessness.

Despite that, as he looked ahead to Sunday’s trip to St Johnstone, the Rangers boss says he won’t dwell on goal difference when there are still 13 games to be played.

“Not until the last game, about goal difference and things like that,” he said. “I ask my players every game to score as many goals as possible. There’s no difference there.

“It’s not as if they score three goals and I say ‘Guys, that’s enough’.

“I pushed them from the first day, and we saw that they scored four on that first day against Hibs. I want them to be ambitious from the first second to the last, to take the maximum out of every game.

“There’s no difference in approach now than there was four months ago. I always want to take the most and the best out of the game.”

That doesn’t mean the Belgian won’t be looking to up his side’s scoring rate and looking for any areas to improve their threat. After Wednesday’s game, in which Ross County goalkeeper George Wickens set a record for the SPFL era of 19 saves, Clement talked about a “focus on finishing”.

Asked on Friday if set pieces were an area where improvements could be made, the manager revealed that he had the same suspicion but that data had corrected his assumption.

“It’s an interesting question because I’ve been looking deeper into that this week,” he said. “I had a feeling we didn’t create enough but if you see the data until now we are doing quite well but we underperformed in scoring goals because we hit the crossbar a few times or there were really good saves from goalkeepers.

“So the goalkeepers overperformed against us in terms of the data when you speak about expected goals and things like that.

“Can it be better? Of course. It would be boring if it couldn’t be better.

“So we’re working on that before every game.”

Managers should meet referees regularly

Clement was also asked about refereeing in Scotland, in the wake of the latest findings of the VAR Independent Review Panel.

The Rangers boss was praised by the Scottish FA after he said he was “happy” that Willie Collum was in charge of last week’s Scottish Cup tie, despite the club’s unhappiness with Collum’s performance as VAR in the Old Firm game.

Clement also apologised to referee Alan Muir after picking up a yellow card for an outburst during the Ross County game.

He believes the VAR review and ongoing assessment of referees is positive but also thinks tension could be taken out of relationships if managers and referees met away from the pitch.

“Transparency is good and if faults are made there is communication and we can learn lessons from that,” Clement said. “It is the same for me if I make mistakes.

“I think it very important for the game of football that there is transparency and communication and I think it is important that there can be more communication between referees and managers a few times a season, say two or three times a season, outside of the games.

“We did it in Belgium once or twice and it was really interesting because it is a different relationship within the games. There is always a lot of tension and everybody is really focused on their job.

“But I think it is important to have good communications and see each other in a different way sometimes and I think it can be interesting for Scottish football.

“It can be interesting to have good discussions about the game of football, the rules and the things that happen in the months before, discussions in a good way, that there is no misunderstanding or less misunderstanding and that everybody can have their view on things and with this we can have a better product.

“And I mean both sides; managers can talk about things that happened in games that we didn’t understand because we need to explain to our players why decisions are made and also the referees can talk about the actions in the games and also maybe about the behaviour of managers.

“I was also a bit too temperamental in the last game and I kicked away a bottle of water and I got a yellow card which I understood afterwards.

“If we can have open discussions, we as managers can learn, me in the first instance.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code