• Rangers' Old Firm chances and excitement
  • Squad update and injury list
  • How he sees Rodgers' comments
  • No mentality work

Philippe Clement has been speaking ahead of Rangers trip to Parkhead to face Celtic.

Here is everything he had to say.

How much are you looking forward to the game?

We are looking forward for sure. These are the games as a small boy you want to play and be on the pitch. Those are the days and weeks that as a manager you envy the players. You would like to be on the pitch because you can do more there but I think for Rangers it is better that I stay off the pitch. Then they have more of a chance to win things.

How is your squad?

Nothing new, only that Leon Balogun is a doubt. I am not sure yet if he will be available. We will see tomorrow. Connor Goldson is still out, Ryan Jack is not fit enough but took some minutes with the under-18 team to get rhythm after a long time. Alex Lowry the same. Oscar Cortes still out, Rabbi Matondo still out, Abdallah Sima still out and Danilo still out. So it is quite a risk.

Your team haven’t scored the first goal yet this season?

We always want to score first and try to, like most teams in the world, especially those who want to dominate. Whether against Celtic, Benfica or Ross County. That stays the same and the intentions are there so score the first goal although you can never guarantee that. And it is at the end not a guarantee if you score the first goal that you get the points. It’s about 90 minutes going full and not giving away chances and scoring ours, being really effective in games like this. It is a different game for both teams that you have less occasions to score than in a league game.

Are Davies and Ridvan ready to start?

I cannot give my starting 11, that would be too easy. That was a smart question! It’s always a decision with the medical and performance staff with players who haven’t played for a long time coming out of injury. What is the best way short and long term? These decisions are made together. They make decisions about minutes and I decide if they start or come on. I always stick to those numbers as it is a story together. Maybe at one moment you need to take more risk, we will see if that moment comes.

I take it you see this as a must-win?

I don’t totally agree with that. If you have a draw you can still become champion even if you lose, but that is too long a shot for me. We go full for the three points, clear, very, very clear. Doing that you can make an incredible comeback in that way and you can make a really big statement also. 

What needs to change in this Old Firm?

The start of the game was not good in both [games he’s managed]. Efficiency also, we can still be more efficient and we are working hard on that. It’s much better than  few months ago and you see that in all the stats. Like you said, in the other two games it was very close to getting a result. That’s also the thing with the list unavailable. It’s a long list and it has been that way for months but our strong point is that the team was always ready to do the job even those out of position. In that period that did a lot of good, they need to take that towards that game. They chipped away, I have been practising my Scottish.

How confident are you that your players can cope with the atmosphere?

I'm really confident about that, I have no doubts about that. You need to love that if you want to be a player here or in this town. I know many love to play here. It's a case when you're on the pitch and I know when I was there in the past, when more people boo at you, the more people are shouting at you, the more people are negative towards you, the more they are afraid their team doesn't get a result. It works that way so in a way I think the more they're going to boo tomorrow, the stronger my team will get.

Will you take a chance on Leon Balogun?

That's a decision between me, the medical staff and the player. We're now in that part of the season when you can think about those things. It needs to be something that stays logical, we cannot put a player on the pitch only to take him off after five minutes, that's of no use.

What are you going to change next season with regards the injury situation?

That's next season but we're going to change a few things.

Does it affect the psychology that Rangers haven't won at Parkhead for some time?

The past is not so important in that way because every game is different. I don't know how many years that Rangers won against Ross County and we lost there. It's the opposite psychology then. It's about tomorrow and about being there as a player, it's about taking the moments, it's about being there as a group of players and grabbing the moments. You know there are always small margins that decides these kinds of games. You need to take all these things as much as possible towards your side. It can be a switch of scenarios during that game like we had at Ibrox. It was more than 20 years ago I think that one of the team's had a lead of two goals and the other one came back so that shows something. There are no guarantees until the final whistle goes.

Is this how you see the courage in your team and not necessarily running into tackles?

Yes, because these days you need to watch out with tackles. The game has changed in that way from 20 or 30 years ago and I think for the better. I don't want my players to make daft tackles because you have a risk of a red card and you play with 10, or nine, or eight if you do it that way. It's a big difference from 20 or 30 years ago. If I look back at my playing days, we would've ended with five against five. It's good for the game that it's changed. It's about staying focused, staying resilient, not giving up and always believing in yourself and in your teammates. They've been in a lot of situations already this season that it was a really difficult scenario and they came back at the end because they kept on fighting. That's what I want to see from my team.

Chris Suttons says Brendan Rodgers' comments has got under your skin, has it?

No, but to have a comment on every comment in this town, I don't have many hours that I can sleep. It's just what I thought at that moment about that, it's finished.

When you first came in for the job, would the possibility of being in this position have excited you? Do you use that to motivate the players and tell them that they can have such a big moment?

Yes of course but you work every day for that. Like I said from the beginning. I want to win every game, against every opponent, against the biggest teams in the world.  That has to be the aim of every person in this building, not only the players but also the staff. To have these standards high and to have that ambition and every time, not just a few times in a season, every time. Yes, they need to grab that moment, we need to grab that moment together and put all our energy in that. That’s the best thing about sport, about competition. I think football is a little bit like the gladiators of the modern age. In the old times, you had the gladiators in a stadium full of people shouting and booing and doing this with their thumb up or their thumb down.  think were are now in that situation. The good thing is, people don’t kill us. We’re not dead afterwards. Maybe verbally yes, but not in real life. It’s a positive that we will always have another go in the stadium. But that’s how society works now and players need to be ready for that. It’s also exciting thing like that because the more passion people have for the things, the more support you have, so it works in both ways. They need to grab this moment to be really good gladiators tomorrow in the colosseum.

How excited are you?

I love this moment. Like I’ve said already, I love this city. It’s so passionate about football. It’s not that everybody is so friendly in that way. But I can give that it’s place if someone is passionate about his club and I’m not working in his club. I don’t have a problem with that. I love it here.

Only three of Rangers penalties have been given on the pitch this season. Do you think VAR will have an impact tomorrow and do you think it’s time for a review of where its going?

For sure and I think everybody is talking about the need for a review. But like I always say, I’m pro-VAR because it makes the game more honest at the end, that there are less false decisions made. But the way the protocol to make decisions and when to make decisions and what is there responsibility for the VAR and what is the responsibility of the referee, I think there is still some work to do there. Like there is with everything that is new. We cannot forget that. I remember when the new rule came in that you could not play back to the goalkeeper and he take it with his hands. Yes, I’m really getting old now! But those days, I remember as player, the goalkeeper was like, ‘Ouffff’. They had to adapt and I think it’s the same for the referees and the people who need to do the VAR. They need to adapt to a totally new situation, totally different decision-making. But at the end I think things will become more smooth, it will go faster and goes better because they are more experienced and there are more clear protocols about and it will be a more honest game. I think at the end everybody wants that.