It is a time for making the lists and checking them twice. The items that Philippe Clement could detail in black and white are perhaps wishful thinking but each potential present to the support - from Premiership momentum to European progression, from Hampden glory to January reinforcements - is a need as well as a want for the Rangers manager.

Clement has held up his end of the bargain so far at Ibrox. As the wins have been ticked off, the feelgood factor has been brought back. Rangers could have been cut adrift this Christmas but the prospect of festive cheer has been rekindled and the upcoming 12 matches will determine their frame of mind heading into 2024.

Across the next five weeks, Clement’s side will play in three competitions and their aspirations for the second half of the campaign will be set. The New Year will either herald in fresh hope and optimism or see the bubble burst once again.

Come January, Clement will hope that gifts arrive in the shape of the required acquisitions to take Rangers from a position as budding challengers to potential champions. If that situation is to play out, each one of their Premiership rivals must be overcome before the second Old Firm clash of the campaign.

That meeting on Saturday, December 30 will be the final one of the year for Rangers. Kilmarnock are the first-foot visitors to Ibrox a couple of days later before the top-flight hiatus that will give Clement a chance to get some valuable time on the pitch with his players and begin remodelling the squad that he inherited from Michael Beale last month.

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The 49-year-old walked into a seven-point deficit across the Old Firm divide. That was reduced as a result of Celtic’s surprise stumble at Easter Road and the gap currently stands at eight. Rangers, though, have a game in hand and their own trip to Leith will be the first match back after the break.

The importance of that particular outing will be determined long before then. Victory at Parkhead would be a sign of progress and a marker of Clement’s intentions but it could prove ultimately futile if Rangers cannot, as they have done thus far under their new manager, take care of the rest of their opponents with relative ease.

Supporters have rightly been enthused and encouraged by what they have witnessed from Clement’s first seven matches in charge. Six of them have been won as 18 goals have been scored and only three conceded. As individual standards have risen, the collective levels have hit new heights at a time when there was plenty of room for improvement.

Yet Clement knows as well as anyone that it is only a start. He may not be able to control the thoughts of the support, but he can ensure that his players have the right mentality to navigate a run of fixtures that will go some way to proving whether Rangers have the mark of champions.

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Pittodrie and Tynecastle await for Rangers, as does Fir Park on Christmas Eve. At Ibrox, the visits of St Mirren, Dundee, St Johnstone and Ross County must see an expectant support, and a demanding manager, satisfied as lesser opponents arrive aiming to fill the role of Scrooge and ruin Rangers' Christmas spirit.

Clement’s pedigree as a champion in his homeland – once with Genk and in successive seasons with Club Brugge – were part of the attraction that brought him to the attention of the board when their search for Beale’s replacement began. Clement has proven himself as a winner and now many of players must do the same. A season that threatened to snowball out of control could bring cheer after all. If that is to be the case, then this cannot be a winter of discontent for Rangers.

Questions remain over the quality and the character of this squad and this side. Teams that go on to win titles prove themselves time after time and Rangers can now answer some of their doubters and win over some of their critics. If Clement’s side truly believes they can be champions, the festive fixtures are the perfect chance to show it.

That will, of course, be easier said than done. The Ibrox crowd only need to think back to this phase of the campaign 12 months ago to be reminded of the folly of getting too far ahead of themselves. What Clement must not do is allow history to repeat itself, to allow another false dawn to crush hopes as quickly as they were raised.

Beale was appointed as Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s successor during the World Cup break and, just like Clement, recorded a victory over Hibernian on his dugout debut. His first fixture at Hampden was also won as Aberdeen were beaten in the semi-final of the Viaplay Cup. By that stage, Beale had already suffered his first setback.

Three further wins followed that success over Hibernian but an Old Firm triumph eluded Beale as Celtic snatched an Ibrox draw. It was the point that maintained their handsome lead in the title race and the result that prematurely ended any chance of a Rangers fightback. History would show it was the first big game, the first of many, that Beale couldn’t win.

The second one arrived at the National Stadium in late February. A seven-game streak had improved the mood on and off the park but questions were rightly asked when Celtic lifted the League Cup. A defeat across the city followed, as did another at Hampden. When it mattered most, Beale’s side were not up to the task.

Clement is unlikely to pay too much attention to what has gone on before, especially given that it was under Beale’s guidance and that so many players have come and gone since. Yet it does offer a warning to the former Monaco manager. Overcoming the rest is one thing, but beating the best is quite another.

This upcoming sequence, which starts with a potentially tricky trip to face Aberdeen on Sunday, is almost a no-win situation for Clement. He knows that any slip-ups could well spell the end of Rangers’ title ambitions, but winning each match on its merits is merely a case of his side doing what they should be doing given their resources and targets this term.

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The derby obviously stands out on the schedule but there is plenty of football to be played before then. Indeed, Rangers have a trophy to aim for a couple of weeks prior and beating the Dons to end their long wait for the League Cup would be a platform upon which real belief could be built.

The final comes just days after the last fixture in Group C. In all likelihood, the return to Seville will be meaningless in terms of qualification, as long as Clement’s side can take care of Aris Limassol at the second time of asking. A 90-minute shot at top spot offers opportunities but the meeting with Real Betis is the least significant outing in this defining dozen.

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If a handful of points are dropped and ground is lost in the Premiership before the Old Firm, there is a chance the second derby of the term could fall into that relatively meaningless category as well. The goal for Rangers is to keep within striking range and then pounce at Parkhead.

By that time, fans will have already unwrapped their gifts and spent time with their loved ones. Yet their energy and enthusiasm will be shaped by what Clement’s side do before and during the holiday period.

So far the Belgian has more than matched expectations during an opening month - but it's the next number of weeks which will truly shape his first season.