AS Rangers head to Tynecastle to take on Hearts this afternoon for their final fixture of a cinch Premiership season where they have been written off, before clawing their way back into contention, only to be knocked back off course and pipped to the post by rivals Celtic, manager Philippe Clement summed up his feelings in one word: disappointment.

But after the green and white bunting is swept away following the title party at Parkhead this afternoon, Clement has the chance to be the one popping the last of the champagne bottles next weekend in his side’s Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final against their arch rivals at Hampden.

While there may also be an element of drowning the sorrows of missing out on the top priority in the league championship, the showpiece fixture in Mount Florida offers the former AS Monaco and Club Brugge manager a chance to put another positive slant on his first term in charge by securing a cup double and, crucially, a first win against his city rivals since taking over the reins from Michael Beale in October.

It is from these foundations that Clement believes he can continue to build a team in his mould which can go on and challenge for further titles in his time with the Ibrox club.

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The Belgian believes he has already seen signs of his Rangers side playing to the levels craves in his first seven months at the helm, in particular during their Europa League campaign, but the task now is to sustain those levels over the course of an entire season. And a major component of that task is in alleviating the injury woes which have plagued his first term in charge.

“Yes, in moments [we reached the heights], but we miss consistency because we have to change players a lot of the time,” Clement said.

“We bring in an attacking midfielder like Kieran Dowell as a defensive midfielder, right full-back as midfielder [Dujon Sterling], and we had a period where we didn’t have wingers, a period where older central defenders are injured. So, in that way it’s more difficult.

“But for sure there were instances in games where we played good and were offensively dominant. There were several games like that.

“There were also good European games, opponents played attacking football with high pressing. There were also good European games where we were well-structured and could play a good transition game because the opponent, with quality, were better than us, but we played good games like in Seville [against Real Betis] and against Benfica, these two games.

“So, there were several games where we saw the right things, but we want more consistency. In that, you need to get the seven, eight players who are the core of your team, you need to play 80, 90 minutes of every game of every season. For every team in the world, it’s crucial to have that or otherwise it’s everyone stepping in all the time.”

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While Clement oversaw a successful Europa League group campaign where Rangers topped a section including Sparta Prague, Betis and Aris Limassol, he will have the opportunity to lead his side into the lucrative Champions League next season.

After finishing as runners-up in the Premiership, the Ibrox club face the daunting non-champions route through qualifying, however, beginning in the third and penultimate round before the newly formatted group stage. But he is hopeful that his experiences of qualifying via this path after his first season with Club Brugge in his native Belgium in 2019 will stand in him good stead in this regard. After reaching the group stage, Clement would go on to clinch the Belgian title in 2020 and secure automatic qualification the following season. But the 50-year-old is under no illusions over the scale of the task facing him and his Rangers players this summer.

“With Brugge in my first season, we qualified directly for the Champions League,” Clement said.

"We were the first – and the only team until now I think – who qualified by the non-champion road. 

“What’s going to be more challenging is that we need more changes here. More new players in the building.

“So we start early in August to do those qualifying games, but also the league competition games. So these players need to be ready fast.

“If you have a core already from the season before and you are fine tuning things, it’s easier but not easy.

“But we did it that year with Brugge. I knew the core of the team already because I’d been the assistant the year before.”

Having only arrived in Glasgow a quarter of the way through the current campaign, Belgian Clement has been on a steep learning curve about the demands of the Ibrox club and their supporters in a city where footballing rivalries and expectations are intense. But rather than shrink from these challenges, Clement insists he has been used to such extremes throughout his career in football.

Asked if Rangers has been the biggest task of his career, he replied: “No I don’t think so. It’s not bigger than that job in Brugge, or in Monaco, where there was also a lot of things to do.

“It’s more the things outside of the football at the moment. That’s why I said it can be delegated more at the club and we’re working on this at the moment because I cannot be everywhere at every moment.

“Yes [my previous work gives me belief] but it’s of course challenging. It’s easier when you can build more on this season. But with six players out of contract you are already in the situation that it is more difficult to do those things.

“We need to now create more stability in the club, to create another model of recruitment. You’ve seen it in the January window, with no cash to spend to buy somebody that we still bring young, talented players in. Dio [Mohamed Diomande] has proved that he has potential to grow for the future. Oscar [Cortes] also. Fabio [Silva], with his ups and downs, and also not playing in his best position last couple of months because of all the injuries, that’s one thing to talk about.

“So, we need to continue in that way of recruiting but we need to see also that we keep enough experience in the building.

“[Experience] is crucial because having a big talent but not coping with the demands of this club is of no use. You need to be mentally also strong to survive here with the ups and downs and the criticism. You have to be ready for that.”