• Questioning differences in handball decisions
  • Hailing influence of captain Tavernier
  • Importance of mentality after comeback victory

Philippe Clement has spoken to the media following the win over Kilmarnock. Here is what he had to say.

What attributes did you need to show to come back and win?

Resilience, mentality, solidarity and the quality to adapt. We started the game well with a good set-piece from which we could have scored - but they saved it on the line. Had we gone in front it’s a totally different game. But then after 10 minutes you get this penalty against you, which was a frustrating moment because the scary goes against you. You then have an opponent who sits back and waits for your mistakes to make counter attacks and to be dangerous. And our tempo was too slow in the first half. We needed some time to adapt because it was a totally different kind of football. At moments I felt my players were like Bambi on ice. They had to adapt to that and we spoke about it at half-time. After that they were great. We were massive in every sense, the resilience, the tempo, the fighting spirit. This is a major win. One thing to add, we had a penalty given against us but we could have had an easier last five minutes if we’d also been given a penalty. I want to hear the reason why they give the first penalty and the second not. That’s really not clear for me. So we go back to the story about handballs. I hope you guys can explain something about that because it was a really weird situation again for me.

What can you say about James Tavernier and what he means to this team?

He is always there. He fights hard for the team because it is not only about scores and stats but also about doing a defensive job. And he stays positive. He’s keeps on fighting until the last second. He gives everything and his mentality has become more and more [evident] in the team - and also in the fans. They were also great. They were amazing. You can become negative because in the first half you go before and it’s difficult to create chances. But they kept on singing and pushing. And they know the team will do everything to get three points so this connection that is now between fans and the team is also major for me.

Is that the kind of result that didn’t feel possible when you came into the job?

No I don’t want to speak about that because it is the players who do it. It is about them. For them, these nights need to be reference evenings in their heads for the future also.

How important was Jack Butland’s save at 1-0?

You can speak about 11 players or 15 or 16 players who did major things to get the result. That is also all credit to Derek and his team, who made it a really big fight and what they have been doing all these months. In 15 games, Kilmarnock only lost twice. Two times against us and the rest they didn’t lose one of the games. So huge credit also to Kilmarnock that they make it a really big fight. Of course they are more used to these circumstances. Apparently we needed some time to adapt to the circumstances also because I saw a big difference in the second half also.

Does it feel like a significant result tonight?

Of course, because of the scenario of the game that goes against you. But this is not a group of players anymore who stop or quit or become nervous or become islands. They stick together, they fight hard and they show quality. They were two quality goals and there were several good attacks also. It is very important.

Were you proud of the way the team defended?

Yes, of course, because we didn’t give away a lot. It is not easy when the other team plays like that. We not only defended we tried to create also. We could have scored more. We could have had a penalty also to make the job easier at the end.

What did you say to get that reaction in the second half?

That is between us. Some things are for the dressing room. Not important. The boys did it. They showed what they had to show, they showed what they showed already a lot of times in the last couple of months and because of that I am really proud of them.

Is that the kind of mentality that wins a title?

We are not busy with that. Without that mentality you cannot win titles. That is one thing. But it is about confirming this game by game.

How is Oscar Cortes?

No idea for the moment. It is really early. We will see tomorrow or the day after to make a good assessment about him, if he was tired or it is more. Let’s hope not because we are missing already enough players. That is something to work on in the next months for sure and the preparation for next season