It was just the start Philippe Clement and Rangers were after at the weekend as the Belgian’s reign kicked off with a 4-0 win at home to Hibernian.
Yes, Pedro Caixinha also secured a victory by a similar margin on his first game back in 2017, and we know how it went for him so we can’t read to much into the result itself to fully judge how his tenure could go.
Whilst it was good to at least register a trumping win after a lack of it for several weeks so far this season, unless Livingston were the team at the other end, it was more the performance rather than the result that gave an indication of what we might see from Clement and his side over the rest of the season.
The match was far from the perfect display from start to finish, but the subtle differences were obvious for all to see.
Rangers played the ball a lot quicker. More of the passes were going forward as opposed to side the ways and as a result, the team were able to create much more chances in the final third. As expertly pointed out by Heart and Hand’s Adam Thornton on X (formerly Twitter), Saturday’s 2.52 Expected Goals was one of the highest registered all season to-date.
Getting more bodies into the box to produce more goals was something Michael Beale constantly talked about wanting to do, but his successor has already had more success achieving it than he did.
Yes, we did have the task of playing a Hibs team who were very open and tried to pass out from the back against the press, but the intent the team showed in pressuring the away side’s approach was something we never saw this season under Beale, with the matches at home to Motherwell and Celtic prime examples of this.
Individually, there was also plenty to shout about compared to the season as a whole so far. In the second half in particular, Nico Raskin looked back closer to the player we signed last season, terrorising Hibs when out of possession as well as being positive with the ball at feet, whilst Todd Cantwell in a cameo substitute appearance showed what he is capable of when given that attacking creative licence.
In terms of the new signings, the much-maligned Cyriel Dessers got himself an expertly taken goal that will do his confidence the world of goal, and his overall play throughout the match was night and day on previous outling, whilst despite continuing to be cursed in front of goal, Sam Lammers looked more like his pre-season form in that Number 10 role than what he has produced in competitive action to-date.
It’s important not to get carried away at this point that Rangers will now catch up to Celtic at the top with ease, but if Clement can continue to build on this performance with more time at training and with the players, things could certainly get more tight between the Old Firm than they had done since July.