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Every word from Philippe Clement as Rangers manager gets into guts of Aberdeen result

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Philippe, good evening. What was your overall take on the game tonight?

“Well, I think we played a really good game today, a really dominant game. But these are the kind of games that you have in a season when the circumstances are not on your side. So, you totally dominate the first half, you have the chances to score more than one. A few blocks, a lot of people in the box, just people throwing their bodies in front of our players to shoot, a goalkeeper who also played really well today, for sure in the second half also, and then you have this one moment. And that’s also the quality of (Bojan) Miovski; he doesn’t need much to score goals. So, you get a knock there just before half-time, and then it’s important to stay calm and to continue what you’ve been doing and not to start to doubt. I think that’s a massive step forward, that the team is ready to do that now. That the dressing room is ready to do that, and on the other side, the defenders are ready to do that. It’s a big difference from a few months ago, that the belief stays and everybody keeps on pushing to get a result. That was one circumstance. Then the second circumstance is the red card. Yeah, ten minutes before the end of the game. So you need to struggle these last ten minutes also. Although it was not really a struggle that we give away a lot, we had even chances to score also a goal because we kept on going. But it makes the game more difficult to finish off. If we stay with XI, it was a different end of the game, but maybe at the end, it’s good also to show everybody how aligned everybody is in the club now, fans and players. Because it was amazing to feel this energy out of the stands these last ten minutes.”

You talk about the energy, you say the players, the fans feel ready. Obviously, at the moment you’ve gone level on points with Celtic. Do you feel that this could be a significant night? It really felt like that Philippe at the full-time whistle with the fans and the players.

“I don’t think the fans are too busy with that. They just feel that the football is much better, that the team is fighting for everything in a good way, in a good football way. That all the squad is involved to give their best every day for the club. And it’s something that players have built, this credit again, that they lost in the beginning of the season, it’s back there. So it’s important for us to keep on repeating that and it’s important for the fans also to keep on pushing the team through difficult moments because they will come the next couple of months also.”

I need to ask you about the red card; obviously the referee went over to the monitor, he stuck with his decision, it’s not something you see too often. What was your take on that decision?

“It’s a harsh decision for me. Because Dujon (Sterling) slipped and he hits the toes of the opponent. So I didn’t see until now many red cards that you touch an opponent at his toes. If I look back, I cannot remember one moment so that’s a harsh one and that makes the end of the game more difficult. But it’s also a difficult profession, I know because we need to do it every day in the training, to make decisions. So at the end, the referee decides and we need to accept it.”

Philippe, I wanted to ask you about Todd Cantwell. That’s now five goals in six games playing as a number 10. You mentioned that you’ve tweaked his role from earlier in the season. You must be pleased with his contribution; he’s really hitting form?

“I am seeing him growing because he’s doing much more what’s necessary for the team and he starts to understand much better the story. And he feels also that it’s to his benefit, but that’s not the most important thing, that it’s to the benefit of the team. He needs to continue in that way. To work for the team, to do the things for the team, and then the individual things come also like the goals or assists. But it’s not only for Todd. It’s for everybody, all together. I think people saw really good combination play today, with really good actions, not only with offensive players but all the team involved in our attacks. That’s the football we want to bring the next couple of months and to grow with that also because we still have a lot of room for progression to make it better.”

And both goals scored by players gambling on a shot that’s saved, players getting into the box and capitalizing. Again, that’s not something that’s happened regularly in the past so that must be something you’re happy with?

“Yes, but also first that the shot is made. That was also a thing in the past that it took too much time sometimes. So everybody sees the team growing month by month and that’s our ambition to grow. So we have a few new lads coming in, they understand also better and better the story. You see Fabio (Silva) in a better way than two, three weeks ago. It’s normal, it’s logical. You need to have worked together, you need to get the connection with the players. Cyriel did also a really important job before that to break the wall because at the end of the game, or the last 20, 25 minutes, you get more space because players get tired, opponents get tired because of all the work that’s been done in the first half. So it’s a team performance. I am really glad about that, to feel this winning mentality in this dressing room now. And there’s no doubt anymore whatever happens like getting this goal against just before halftime. Because those can be breakpoints in the

Rangers FC v Aberdeen - Cinch Scottish Premiership

You went on the pitch after the game, what did you say to the referee?

“We had a calm talk. No, really calm. I like it also that we can discuss things with referees with respect and in a decent way what was the view on the red card.”

You’re saying that you have to accept the decision with Sterling, will you consider looking at it again and going to appeal?

“That we need to decide those things as a club. So I never make these decisions alone, I don’t want to make those alone, but this one is quite clear I think. But we need to discuss this inside the club first.”

Philippe, we knew before the game that you were going to be resting Ryan Jack but I think maybe some eyebrows were raised when you chose Tom Lawrence ahead of Nico Raskin and perhaps Dujon Sterling as well. Tom’s had an excellent performance tonight, what was the rationale behind putting Tom in ahead of the other two?

“Yeah but you can make a lot of questions about other players also. No, that’s what I see in the moment, who’s showing the most quality and it’s a lot. It’s difficult choices to make for the moment, there’s a lot of competition. Nico comes also out of a long-time injury so he needs to pick up rhythm. But this was also a game not to put players in to gain rhythm, I knew it would be a really hard fight and we had to show a lot of quality. So by that the choice for Tom, who played a really good game for me like he did before also. And he’s also somebody coming out of injury so the moment he gets tired, I changed him also for Dujon. And that’s the way it’s going and it will go on until the end of the season with the whole team. I want every second that the player is on the pitch that it’s at a 100%, not at 90% or 95% and they’ve learned this and also to be honest about that, so that’s a good thing also.”

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