5 Rangers musts for Philippe Clement to end woeful derby run as fans feel Parkhead dread

Philippe Clement said he wished Rangers were heading to Parkhead today such is his derby desperation - but the fans are looking it more with dread after a woeful run against their rivals.

It will be left to the derby rivals’ women’s teams to battle it out at Broadwood in a Bank Holiday Monday blockbuster. Clement will probably be in the thick of training, after his side's 4-1 win over Kilmarnock on Sunday, as that SWPL game is taking place as he kicks off a week that will almost certainly end with his Light Blues side being firmly in our out of the Scottish Premiership title race.

Realistically, it all hinges on Saturday’s mammoth Old Firm derby clash as the Belgian looks to get his first win over Celtic at the third attempt and for Rangers themselves a first meaningful derby win in over TWO YEARS. It really is a miserable run with one dead rubber victory in their last TEN meetings and the champions, chasing a third consecutive title, are heavy favourites to continue their derby dominance. But given Clement has six days rather than the 24 hours he wanted to prepare for the match, what will be going through his head? Here, Record Sport looks at some of the big issues facing the Ibrox boss and the factors that have cost Rangers in recent derbies.

Midfield dilemma

The Ibrox boss an engine room puzzle to solve with derbies often won and lost in that area. For a start, does he go with three in the middle of the park to make them more solid in midfield? It’s an area where Callum McGregor has often dictated and with the Celtic captain now back and nearing full fitness, Gers have to find a way to nullify him. But if Clement goes for that option does he then sacrifice too much going forward if, for example, someone such as Todd Cantwell pays the price. Also, Dujon Sterling would be an obvious choice to move into the middle of the park from the right where he has a vital role in helping James Tavernier deal with the threat of fit-again Daizen Maeda who has caused so many problems in previous derbies. Nico Raskin has come back in from the cold and could be an alternative but Clement has to decide if it’s worth losing an attacking player to go down that road. They also have to find a way of involving Mohamed Diomande. The return of the Ivorian has seen an upturn in performances but he often looks frustrated when the first thought is to work the ball out to the wide areas.

Strike first

Rangers have scored first in just one of their last ELEVEN games against Celtic which came in that 3-0 dead rubber win at the end of last season under Michael Beale. But even in their last meaningful victory against the Hoops - the 2-1 Scottish Cup semi final extra time victory under Giovanni van Bronckhorst - they were forced to come from behind. Earlier the same month, they struck first through Aaron Ramsey at Ibrox before Ange Postecoglou’s men came back to win and take a giant leap towards the title. It means the last time Rangers scored first and went on to win a meaningful Old Firm derby was when Filip Helander scored the only goal of the game at Ibrox and that was way back under Steven Gerrard - in August 2021! So, finding the net first on Saturday would be a start for Clement.


This is the biggest test for Philippe Clement - how can be make his players believe they can win when they step off that team bus at Parkhead, knowing they’re going into the lion’s den without any away fans? During his first spell in charge, Brendan Rodgers claimed the Rangers players were scarred by the fixture after he continually dealt out beatings to them.

Celtic's Matt O'Riley and Rangers' Mohamed Diomande
Celtic's Matt O'Riley and Rangers' Mohamed Diomande -Credit:SNS Group

The gap has closed between the rivals since the Irishman’s first spell, but the derby dominance is back after Steven Gerrard had shifted the balance back to the south side of the River Clyde with a SEVEN game unbeaten run under the Liverpool and England legend. It’s going to be a huge test of mentality.

Find ruthless streak

Even in their last defeat at Parkhead, Rangers got chances and it was the same for Hearts on Saturday despite the Jambos going down 3-0 in the east end of Glasgow. The Light Blues will get opportunities but can they take them? It's something they simply have to do. Rangers clocked up 40 efforts against 10-man Kilmarnock on Sunday but returned just four goals. Yet again Cyriel Dessers was guilty of taking too long to get shots away and he was guilty of squandering a glorious chance at Parkhead in the festive fixtures. They have to be more ruthless to have any chance of winning.

Don't shoot themselves in the foot

The start in the last derby couldn't have been worse as Daizen Maeda scored after just 21 seconds. It was a comical goal to concede with James Tavernier involved and the skipper scored a bizarre own goal against Kilmarnock on Sunday. Rangers have given Celtic too many gifts in the past and can't afford to do that if they have any hope of ending this miserable run.