Jack Butland was never going to go as far as using the second part of the famous Bill Shankly quote and label anyone at Ibrox – past or present – as an idiot for overcomplicating matters. Yet the Liverpool legend’s line about how football is a simple game is perhaps ringing true for Rangers right now.

When you have the squad, the budget and the facilities that Rangers enjoy, winning domestic matches should be relatively straightforward. That has, of course, not always been the case this season but the upturn in recent weeks has encouraged and enthused players and punters alike. Nothing is easy, but Rangers are not making life difficult for themselves anymore.

Significant strides have been taken in a short space of time. It remains prudent to be cognisant of where Rangers are in relation to where they must get to but the opening weeks of Philippe Clement’s tenure have seen fortunes transformed as results have been earned and performances have been produced. There is a feelgood factor amongst the support once again and the same can be said for a group that had lost their way and lost too many matches during the final stages of Michael Beale’s tenure.

The change is quite remarkable. There were times earlier in the season when Rangers couldn’t be confident against any opposition but they now head into the fixtures with Sparta Prague and Aris Limassol bullish that they can collect the six points required to secure Europa League progression. As Butland put it on Wednesday afternoon, there is not a side that Rangers are afraid of, especially at Ibrox.

That mentality has been forged by Clement as the Belgian has backed up his words and his actions. Rangers remain a work in progress but a campaign that offered only fear of failure under Beale now has a very different vibe about it.

“It's felt like a long time, it feels like we've been together for ages which I think is a testament to him,” Butland said of the progress that has been made during the first three weeks of the Clement reign. “I think the desire from the group has always been there. It's been channelled perhaps and I think the manager has simplified things for us. Certainly, our performances have shown that there is a lot of talent in this group and that there is a lot of belief and desire in this group.

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“It's sort of coming together and I guess we've seen that in a short space of time. But the way that the manager is and the way that we are with not stopping at anything, we've got things that we want to achieve, a lot of work to do and that's a conscious effort every single day is to keep getting better and improve. We've come a long way I think, still a way to go but we're getting towards the team we want to be.”

Butland is not the first player to have spoken about the gains that have been made following Clement’s appointment. Like the others, and like the manager himself, he knows a press conference setting is not the time nor the place to give away the secrets of the successes so far but he referenced the pillars - technical, tactical, physical and mental - that Clement laid out on day one when asked about the changes behind the scenes that have had such an impact in public.

The messages have been ‘really clear’ and ‘there's not a stone he's not looking to turn and find improvement in’. Clement has been effective and efficient in his methods and the style of play - one which demands that Rangers are difficult to beat at one end but press high, create chances and score goals at the other - has been evident as the matches have been ticked off. Butland has pride at the clean sheet record and believes further improvements will come in that regard as a result of the work on set piece situations.

The Englishman has been the leading light for Rangers throughout the campaign and has not been on the end of the comment or criticism of his peers. He dismissed the notion that he had already filled the gloves of Allan McGregor but is appreciative of the support that he has had from the fanbase and the other leaders in the dressing room. Open, honest and thoughtful, Butland has already found his place and found his voice.

Now that matches are being won, the mood around Auchenhowie has naturally been lifted. Clement’s role in that cannot he underestimated, though, as everyone has been made to feel part of a new era and given their chance to be involved.

“I think everything had to improve because we weren't happy with where we were,” Butland said. “It was a difficult start to the season for everybody so I think that goes without saying. I don't think there's anything there to take from that. When you're winning and you're playing better, people are a lot happier. As far as the manager goes, I touched on it earlier, he's simplified things, he's made his demands obvious and not clouded.

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"There's been occasions where he wants to improve certain things and aspects, whether it be fitness or whatever, there's been things that he's touched on and been sure to come back and give us reasons as to why and backed up his reasons as to why he's making us do certain things or play a certain way. There's no grey area, I think the lads know what's expected and he's included everybody.”

That fitness aspect has been addressed by Clement on several occasions. It will take time for the work technically, tactically and mentally to come to fruition and the former Monaco manager admitted recently that there would be no overnight fix when it comes to ensuring Rangers are the fittest side in the country. 

That demand is not necessarily the biggest one that will be asked of Butland this season. Indeed, there will be spells in many matches where he is not called upon at all and those phases are more about concentration than conditioning. The former England international is now plotting his way through game like a chess player rather than running on adrenaline and his levels are setting standards of their own.

“He's bringing everybody in,” Butland said. “Sometimes the old ideas of running stupid distances can be a punishment to people, he's made it clear if people are doing extra running it's not as a punishment, it's to get you up to the standard to where the lads who are getting those numbers in week in week out, so when the opportunity comes he will call on those people because we will need to over the course of the season, they are not a yard off, they're up to standard.

“When he articulated it in that way, it's not as if you're running because you're not playing or fit enough, you're doing extra work to get to the levels we need you. The lads are on board because that works in everyone's favour. Those guys, it means they are ready and for the rest of the team and club, every player is ready to go when called upon.”

Butland has made a habit of making big saves at big moments this term. That will need to be the case against Prague if Clement is to overcome the only side that he has faced but not beaten after a goalless draw in the Czech capital last month.

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European nights under the floodlights were one of the attractions for Butland as he considered his options in the summer. The first one under Clement could be the most memorable yet for the keeper and his team-mates.

“We're taking every game as it comes, whether we are underdogs or not,” Butland said. “We know what it's like when people have to come and face us at home, as a team we are growing in strength and belief that we can play anyone. Maybe that wasn't quite the feeling some time ago, we're certainly growing into that.

“It doesn't mean we won't have some difficult games, we've had some scenarios where we've had to come from behind already, but we're growing as a team and the belief is there that we'll win games of football whether we're winning or behind. We're heading to a position where we don't fear anybody and that's where we fall in line with what this club is all about.”