Things are going quite swimmingly for Philippe Clement at Rangers before the international break.
Having taken over from Michael Beale with morale at an all time low following a dreadful start to the campaign that led to the Englishman’s sacking, Clement had got the support back on side after quickly establishing an identity that had been lacking before hand.
Results such as the 5-0 victory away to Dundee and the 3-1 win at Hampden over Hearts in particular had even the fiercest doubter believing that maybe this season wasn’t as lost as it once looked.
However, it appears that two week break just there has halted the momentum that had been building, and the two performances in the last week have been up there as the worst of the campaign.
Having looked to have been eating his own words by having the magic touch with this group of players, the same group have suddenly reverted back to type – and not for the first time.
Sloppy goals being conceded from the basics of football as well as a lack of imagination on the ball sum up what the fans witnessed against Aberdeen and Aris Limassol.
Ironically, it was the last meeting with the latter which laid bare the extent of the troubles with the squad, and the only real differences in the two performances was the venue and the coach.
Not all the issues we’ve seen can be put on Clement, as this is a group he’s inherited as opposed to build. He does have several massive questions that he needs to address now before he gets the chance to buy or sell anyone in January.
The first of which revolves around his star player in Todd Cantwell, who almost looks as though he’s been singled out by Clement – and not in a good way.
Recent matches have saw Cantwell being used on the right wing, and whilst there has been flashes of brilliance, he’s yet to rediscover his best form.
Against Aris, he seemed to be going against direction by coming instead the pitch too much, and whilst he wasn’t at his best, the decision to replace him just after the half hour for Ross McCausland left Ibrox deflated.
Clement’s reasoning to get more width into the game urgently was understood, but the choice to sacrifice Cantwell as opposed to Sam Lammers was baffling.
You could ignore that Lammers was at least semi working to instructions in regards to positioning and the high press, but he couldn’t make a pass to save himself and his penalty box IQ was lacking again.
The manager stated after the match that Cantwell is at his best playing in the 10. Whilst his predecessors unbalanced transfer activity has left an overabundance in this area, the former Norwich man remains the best option in that role.
It’s not as if the alternative is out performing him to merit the role. McCausland is firmly deserving of a run on the right wing, but in order to get this team back up to form, it’s important Cantwell isn’t the one excluded to get him in.
Equally as important urgently is trying to try and address the mental frailties that exist at Rangers.
Time and time again when given the chance to close the gap on their rivals or take advantage in a group, they fail to turn up.
Too many players that have let the club down on every big occasion remain, and there appears to be no sign of this changing any time soon.
Aside from Butland, the spine of the team constantly looks weak and lacks any form of ambition.
Long have fans wanted to see a refresh, and that’s what he thought had happened in the summer under Beale.
But too many of them seem to have taken the club back the way, meaning that Clement might need more than a few new signings to get things in a better state.
Otherwise, it’s likely going to be a case of rinse and repeat at the club which could sadly cost him his job in the future unless he does something about it.