If it wasn’t already clear to Philippe Clement how big a job he had on his hands from Thursday, it must be crystal clear now. Rangers took the three points yesterday after coming back from being a goal down.
Hearts scored early and then sat back the rest of the game. Apart from one dangerous counter in the second half, that Alan Forrest really should’ve gambled on, they didn’t offer much going forward.
They were, however, resolute defensively. Was that because of their shape and discipline or just through Rangers lack of invention?
There was a massive lack of quality from the wide areas and within the box. Even when there was a decent cross/pass into a dangerous area, there wasn’t anyone who looked like they were going to score.
A lack of cutting edge has been Rangers issue for years and the biggest challenge facing Clement currently. It, again, took James Tavernier to step up and score a crucial penalty and then whip in a great cross for a terrific Danilo header.
The manager mentioned the mentality of Tavernier after the game. Think what you want about him but it takes balls to step up again that late in a game after having missed a penalty previously.
The three points were the most important thing but let’s look at the numbers.
Rangers 2-1 Hearts
- 69% Possession
- 2 Goals
- 4.03 xG (1.60 xG from open play)
- 28 Shots (5 on target)
- 4 Big Chances
- 3 Big Chances Missed
- 85% Pass Accuracy
- 64% Tackles Won
- 55% Ground Duels Won
- 50% Aerial Duels Won
The issues are clear here. Unfortunately, it’s been an issue since Steven Gerrard’s time in charge. Rangers just don’t create enough clear cut chances. The xG is so high because of the two penalties but 1.60 xG from 20+ shots is very poor.
Add in to the fact that only five shots of the 28 were actually on target and it gives a clear idea of the issue. Obviously, there will be days these lower quality shots go in. Yesterday they didn’t though and Rangers struggled to create anything clear cut.
Clement will need time and probably investment to fix this. It would also help having a fully fit team at his disposal.
The mentality definitely comes across as better but the creativity definitely needs to improve.
Words From The Manager
After securing the win yesterday, Phillipe Clement had this to say;
I saw the mentality that I wanted to see and what we talked about. In the tough moments when things don’t go our way we need to never stop, to always repeat, fight, work and continue until we die.
Not only with eleven players but also the players who came off the bench to give the team energy, to give them something extra so it is a really important evening.
It is a reference game, this is the mentality I want to see all season. If we do that then we can have an amazing season and then the players will win the confidence of the fans in the difficult moments and then we are even stronger.
They can use this as a reference in the future when the difficult moments come to speak with each other on the pitch and say that they did it against Hearts so they can do it against every team in the league. That is why we need to use it as a reference game because it is inside the players, they showed it today, it is about showing it every time.
It is a game you always need to win, data is not always important but at this moment it is really clear if you have almost 70 per cent ball possession, you have 28 shots, you have five big chances and you miss a penalty.
You get a goal against in the first action of the opponent. It is a scenario that is really negative in that way, and it is really difficult to get a result, but we kept on going.
We repeated our actions, we didn’t lose our belief, we went all for it and the players got what they deserved today. It is a win, but it is only possible if everybody on the pitch goes hard every time and doesn’t lose confidence, so it is a very important step forward.Philippe Clement to RTV
There hasn’t been any fluff in the Belgian’s comments so far. He’s been very grounded in everything he says and the words seem to actually have some meaning.
Time will tell but he talks a great game and it’ll be exciting to see where this team can go in the coming months.
Yesterday was an incredibly crucial win after Celtic dropping points. The performance wasn’t there but a stronger mentality was clear to see.
Philippe Clement definitely had a huge job on his hands. He must be given time though. Rangers have closed the gap at the top and need to keep winning up until the next Old Firm game.
If this form can continue until then the title race is definitely back on.
ICYMI last week I compared the numbers from the Hibs victory to Beale’s last game against Aberdeen here.
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