Philippe Clement has spoken to the media ahead of the Premiership fixture with Hearts. Here is everything he had to say.

What are your reflections on the title race and your challenge?

That I am in the first place disappointed because I want to win everything so you want to become champion. But at the end we started with seven points behind the first day we stepped into the building and we could not in that period close the gap of taking more than seven points of Celtic. We took one point more until now in that period but not enough so that was seven. You are disappointed about that. You need to leave that behind you and take the conclusions to make things better towards next season. I am already for a few weeks busy with that. Very focused on those things, on that, on the next game and on the cup final. On everything there and how to improve things towards the future.

How content are you with your plan and how far down the road are you?

I think very important is that I had really good talks with the board about that, my ideas are in the club about what to change towards recruitment, towards positions. We are almost everything aligned and that is already a big thing, in a lot of clubs it is sometimes more difficult. That is the first step. The second step is to do it of course. You can have amazing plans but you need to execute them and do them. We are still busy looking with all the departments what we can make better and do better and then to make the right conclusions first and then do the right things second to make things better.

Do you think you can do all the necessary things in time for the new campaign?

That is always the thing, you can say things but you need to do things, you need to see things. Always the promises or plans are not enough, it is how you execute them, what you do with that. We are going to see that the next weeks, the next months. I am really convinced that the will is there in the club, that was also for me the point to come here. I felt that the people in the club wanted to make steps, wanted to work hard, they were also honest in many ways about what was going wrong with the club six months ago. It was important to have this honesty, this honesty is there also now. I feel that everybody is really engaged to make things better. That is the other thing, I know there are emotions now and that is normal when you don’t get your goal and that goal is always to become champion. It is also important to take the right conclusion and it is not that the last six months nothing happened here. There are already steps made but we are all very ambitious, and me in the first place, to make things a lot better.

Will you look to do your business early in the window?

I think every manager wants everybody in tomorrow. Maybe not tomorrow, let’s say in four weeks for the first day of training. Yeah, we want that. I know all recruitment department are working towards that day and night but you can have ideas but it is never the reality because it is not only about you. It is about other clubs, making deals with them, making deals with other players. We need it also to be fast ready because you are going to go into a pre-season that needs to be hard because, like I said, the foundations of the house physically of the dressing room are not good enough to play high intensity at three games a week. That is one of the reasons of so many injuries, that is clear, that is an easy conclusion. These players and players coming in need a really good preparation and new players need to get automatised to the way of playing and learning the principles. In the month of August, there are nine games with two qualifying rounds for Champions League and five competition games. That is directly a really tough start. I did it before with Brugge. We had at that moment a core of the group and you could add, implement a few factors to make things better. I think here we need a bigger rebuild so that is even more challenging than it was before.

How far off the level you are looking for were or are the players?

It doesn’t matter how far. It doesn’t matter. It is difficult because it is individual cases. There are players who played almost everything. It is all individual cases but it is clear if you have every month nine, ten, eleven players out and it changes with some are playing and then another one falls out because one who comes back has to play too much, you are in a vicious circle. We need to break this circle to make the players more robust, make them more strong, make the squad more strong. Like this to have a team where you can compete all the time. If you have so many players out, for any team in the world, it is a problem. This is a vicious circle that has been going on for a few years, it is not the first season it has happened. It is now time to make the right conclusion and to break them.

How many are back and how many have a chance of making the cup final?

Those are two questions. Let’s focus on the first question. The cup final is a week ahead and I have learned here and other places not to look ahead. Sima will be back in the selection to play some minutes but very little, it is his first step again. Ryan Jack the same, he can also be selected for a few minutes. Leon Balogun is still a question mark. We will see tomorrow how he is but he is close to coming back into the squad. That is after just a few trainings so my principles I had to throw away in this situation. Before players had to train at least one week with me, or ten days, before they were selected. I cannot follow those rules the last couple of months.

Is that the first time you have broken your principles?

I didn’t have a choice because otherwise we wouldn’t have had a selection to play the games.

What will you change going into next season in terms of day to day?

There are several things I want to change but we are in talks about that in the club. I think for the moment I am doing too much in different so it needs to be better delegated in the club.

Is that a bigger overhaul than you expected when you first walked through the door?


How much has that surprised you in the last few months?

Some things not because the club has been honest about a lot of things but the injury issue has been bigger than I expected.

Is that something that can only be solved with new players or with the players that are here?

It will be a combination of the two I think.

How seriously will you be chatting to Brighton about Abdallah?

That is about us, him and Brighton. We were really happy with what he showed. We see him as somebody with potential to grow, he is very happy in this building. There is a club that is his owner so you need to find an agreement so we will see what is going to happen there. You don’t know what way that will go. It depends what their demands are and what we can pay. It is always like that.

Is Tynecastle a good place to go because of the atmosphere and it makes players perform?

It would be really poor if they can only perform when it is an atmosphere like that. Then they are not in the right place I think. Everybody has a fight to make to be in this cup final and this great moment. Not everybody is training. John Souttar not training, Goldson not training, Barisic not training, Lundstram not training, Lawrence not training, Oscar Cortes not training, Matondo not training, Danilo not training. That is still a lot. All the others have a chance to fight and to show and be there for the cup final and show themselves. That is interesting now to see those things who are pushing or are thinking about other things. We are going to make a selection around that. Now the dangerous thing for me to say towards fans. Of course we need to think about the cup final now so I need to listen even more to my medical and performance staff about players who came out of the last game with some small things that it is a risk to play 60 minutes or 90 minutes and is better to play less minutes. I need to make a selection around that. I can tell you also already that Ridvan Yilmaz cannot start the game because doing that would be a high risk after his injury. We need to build up that story.

Does Kemar Roofe have a chance to play again this season?

He is still in the building yes. It depends of his level and I need to look at the future also.

Do you see there being significant changes?

There will be changes but what is significant? There will be changes, we need changes also. I think we are as a club at some ways at the end of a cycle so we need to change some things. And I want to end this cycle with a really big moment next week to end the cycle in a good way.