Managing Rangers is a tall task. It’s no coincidence that only 18 men have done so permanently in the club’s entire history.

The job entails so much more than the product on show every second week at Ibrox. Those in charge see every word scrutinised and are regarded as a figurehead - not just a football manager.

After Michael Beale was sacked on Sunday evening, attention has quickly turned to who comes next. And, as names have trickled out from what the club insist to be a preliminary list while agents have started to push their own candidates, no name, unlike before Beale and Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s appointment before him, has stood out and collectively captured the imagination of the support. 

Some want a short-term disciplinarian with experience to arrest the current crisis. However, any interim appointment beyond the one already made in Steven Davis seems unlikely. How could an appointment until the end of the season be sold as anything other than writing the campaign off in the worst-case scenario and hoping for a miracle in the best?

Rangers have a footballing problem that requires the best available footballing solution. With the need for a Sporting Director obvious but unlikely to arrive before a manager, whoever assumes the role of Rangers manager has a big task on their hands.

Philippe Clement is one name that has raised eyebrows and gained attention. The 49-year-old, out of work since losing his job earlier this year at Monaco, is believed to be in the picture.

One man who knows Clement, and Rangers, well is Thomas Buffel. The 42-year-old spent three and a half years at Ibrox from early 2005 to the summer of 2008 and played under Clement during the manager’s first season in charge of Genk, 2017/18.

Clement was a Belgian international as a player who spent the majority of his professional career in his native homeland. Most of those appearances came over a 10-year spell at Club Brugge but the defender also turned out for Genk and spent a season with Coventry City.

READ MORE: Philippe Clement poised for Rangers job as Ibrox board make boss call

After retiring, Clement’s journey to becoming a manager started as a member of the coaching staff at Club Brugge within the scouting department, academy and first team before an impressive spell with Waasland-Beveren in 2017 had earned the Genk job by mid-season - where Buffel was midway through the final season of his own nine-year playing stint.

“He is used to working with clubs where you need to perform, where there is pressure from the fans and media. He is capable of meeting those standards and capable of working under pressure,” Buffel tells the Rangers Review.

“He’s also a manager with real social abilities, ensuring that players are appreciated even when they’re not playing and don’t fall out of the picture. For him, it’s not only about the starting 11 but also the other players because that’s the strength of a squad.

“I worked with him at Genk and in the first season we reached the cup final and in his second season, after I’d left, they became Belgian champions. Then he moved to Club Brugge and won two more titles.”

The obvious attraction of appointing Clement is a demonstrated ability to build title-winning teams and work under expectation. Buffel does not describe a disciplinarian when referencing Clement's man-management, but a coach who commands respect and knows how to run a dressing room.

“He’s very smart. He knows how to talk, what to say, he is calm but when it’s necessary he can hit the table or use his voice," Buffel continues.

“I think he is a motivator which is very important because that’s what drives you and in every game and training session. He’s very passionate as a manager like he was as a player. At Rangers, you need to be passionate, physical, strong and at the end a good football player too.

“Philippe works with young and experienced players. He knows how to handle a dressing room and will make individual players responsible - so that he doesn’t have to be a police officer.”

Alongside forming a dominant domestic template at Brugge and producing a style of football that earned him the job at Monaco, who he’d lead to a third-placed finish after taking over mid-season in 2022, Clement was able to compete in difficult Champions League groups and develop young players. Finishing third in a group containing Real Madrid, PSG and Galatasaray in 2019 and obtaining the same spot the year after, pipped by Lazio in the group’s last game with Borussia Dortmund running out as winners.

Upon his appointment in France, Monaco's Sporting Director Paul Mitchell said: "His profile as a modern coach, with his teams playing with great intensity, including on the continental stage, and his ability to combine titles and the development of young players have made him one of the most prominent and successful coaches in Europe in recent years."

‘Style of play’ has arguably never been more of a focus amongst Rangers supporters in the hunt for a new manager. With breaking down packed defences a weekly task in domestic competition, whoever becomes the next Ibrox boss must be able to coach a team that has the tools to achieve that goal.

There are not many teams grinding their way to league titles at present, to put it mildly, and over the course of recent seasons, Rangers simply have not created sufficient chances to achieve that end goal. So would Clement tick that box?

Buffel's reference to the focus Clement places on attacking patterns, or automatisms, in training is an interesting detail. Now a coach in his own right working as the assistant manager of Belgium’s under-21 side, he's well-placed to explain exactly why this method is important.

“He is a coach who likes to automate a lot of things like good build-up, finishing and repetition in training. He puts a lot of work into the small details you need to train constantly and places a heavy focus on technique,” Buffel continues.

“His training is very clear for the players so that they know how to build up and when to apply pressure. Players know their options A, B and C in the defence and the attack when it comes to a matchday. I think it’s very important for a team that the tactical set-up is clear like this. That tactical detail is why Philippe has been successful at different clubs, alongside his social qualities and ability to hand players responsibility.

“He puts a lot of focus on patterns in attacking and defending the box. So these things become a habit when you’re in high-pressure situations during games. For example, if you work on the runs that strikers are going to make every day as a team, you’ll recognise these moments better in a game. It might look like simple to create this type of football, but it’s the result of hard work.

“In training, he always works with end zones because that means you obtain verticality in your play. You can play possession games and become strong at retaining the ball but at the end of the day, you don’t end up reaching anything. It’s important that you move forward with the ball.”

READ MORE:  Philippe Clement's Rangers managerial credentials examined

Clement did manage to strike the aforementioned balance in Brugge that’s a goldmine for dominant teams outside of Europe’s elite - how do you build a playing identity domestically that also possesses a relative degree of reactivity against the top teams?

“I think he is a smart guy. He will do what’s necessary to be successful,” Buffel says when asked if the manager would fit players into his philosophy, or work his ideas around what is available to him.

“When I worked with Genk we played a 4-3-3 because Genk were known for attractive football and that’s what the fans expect. At Brugge, he sometimes moved to a 3-4-3 so that they could defend with a back five but domestically he also used a 4-3-3 often. He was able to adapt and say, ‘Can we play from our strengths or do we need to find the weakness of the opponent’?”

No appointment that Rangers make will avoid the reality of risk clouding the Ibrox air. For all of Clement’s selling points, he lost his job recently at Monaco and just before moving to France the Belgian's time at Brugge was far from flourishing.

However, without clear and obvious targets, it's arguably Clement who ticks most boxes.