Trophies, titles and Tchouaméni: Who is Philippe Clement?

The new Rangers manager arrives at Ibrox with the side in need of a lift, but can he bring success from Belgium to Glasgow?

Trophies, titles and Tchouaméni: Who is new Rangers boss Philippe Clement? SNS Group

Philippe Clement did not even wait for wheels to touch the ground in Glasgow before getting stuck in to life as Rangers boss.

The Belgian shared an image of himself watching footage of the side’s narrow 1-0 win over Motherwell at Ibrox last month alongside his assistant while on the flight to Scotland, but perhaps it speaks to the turbulence already affecting the Gers’ season that one commenter suggested it would be enough to make the plane turn back.

That turgid performance, in spite of the three points, was met with a chorus of boos from the Govan crowd, suggesting the exit signs were already being lit for predecessor Michael Beale.

It took just a week for the Englishman to be officially jettisoned after that, leaving those in power at Ibrox with a decision to make on who should be parachuted into the hot seat next.

Clement comes with a well-stocked trophy cabinet from his homeland, winning two Pro League titles as a player with Club Brugge, before going one better as a manager, winning it three times in spells at Brugge and Genk.

That track record of trophies is what attracted the Rangers board. In the 2019/20 season, Brugge were ruthless, losing just once before Covid curtailed the season, battering in 58 goals in 29 games in the process.

A year later, they stayed the full course, racking up a goal difference of +47 on the way to a second successive title despite fending off a strong challenge from former employers Genk at the back end of the season.

Brugge motored along in Clement’s third season in charge before the allure of the French Riviera proved too strong, luring the coach to AS Monaco midway through the 2021/22 campaign.

An indifferent start would quickly give way to a strong end of the season. Marseille were beaten at the Stade Velodrome, PSG were tucked away 3-0 at home and Lille edged out 2-1 away from home in a run of ten wins from the last 12 games.

That talented squad was taken to pieces after a third place finish. Aurélien Tchouaméni moved to Real Madrid for €80m, Benoit Badiashile was sold to Chelsea for around £40m and Sofiane Diop departed for rivals Nice for €22m.

Despite taking the club out of their Europa League group, a narrow loss to eventual semi-finalists Bayer Leverkusen on penalties precipitated a slide in their Ligue 1 form.

One win in their last seven saw Monaco slip down the league table, eventually ending the campaign in sixth.

That was enough to convince Dmitry Rybolovlev to go in a different direction, parting company with Clement prior to the start of this season.

However his services have remained in demand. A lucrative offer to manage in Saudi Arabia – where the Gers’ last league-winning manager Steven Gerrard would have been an opposite number – was reportedly turned down in favour of Glasgow and his reputation as one of the continent’s up-and-coming managers has been broadly in tact.

An uncompromising central midfield player in his playing days, Clement appeared at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 with the Belgian national side, and has been described as a “huge presence” by former teammates.

He arrives at Ibrox as the third new dawn since Gerrard left for Aston Villa in 2021 and is tasked with reviving the fortunes of a squad reassembled by Beale in the summer.

Hibernian are the visitors to Govan in Clement’s first match, as they were when Beale took over last season, with the Easter Road side experiencing their own new manager bounce under Nick Montgomery.

Rangers sit seven points behind Celtic at the Scottish Premiership’s summit, and defeat to Aris Limassol in the Europa League prior to the international break leaves Group C finely poised ahead of the double header against Sparta Prague.

The trip to Celtic Park on December 30 will naturally be double underlined in the calendar, but there is the small matter of trips to Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen plus a League Cup semi-final against the Tynecastle side before then.

Whether Clement can restore the side to a cruising altitude by then remains to be seen.

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