RANGERS’ encounter with Hearts on the South Side of Glasgow tomorrow afternoon should be a daunting prospect for their new manager Philippe Clement.

The Ibrox outfit are expected to win every domestic competition they enter and losing the Viaplay Cup semi-final to their Tynecastle rivals will prompt in a furious backlash from their supporters.

With holders Celtic no longer involved, this is a gilt-edged opportunity for the Govan outfit to prevail in this tournament for the first time since way back in 2011.

Clement, though, is not likely be fazed by anything that transpires on his first visit to Hampden this weekend. Not after coming face-to-face with fans of the Parkhead club during an impromptu walkabout in the city centre last week.

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The self-confessed football obsessive has hardly had a moment to draw breath since arriving in Scotland from his native Belgium to replace Michael Beale as Rangers manager last month.

He has had to negotiate cinch Premiership fixtures against Hibernian, Hearts and Dundee as well as a Europa League group game with Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic since being appointed.

He made time, though, to get out and stretch his legs and see the sights in his new home and inevitably ran in to a few of the reigning Scottish champions’ followers when he did so. He found it to be a rewarding rather than a daunting experience.

The Herald: Rangers manager Philippe Clement“I had a walk for an hour and a half,” he said. “Yes, a lot of people recognised me, but it was all positive. Even the Celtic people were friendly. Of course I chatted with them. I am happy to engage.

“I have been a fan myself. I have been a child, I have gone to football games to ask for autographs, I have done it myself. So why would I do something different towards people when I expected the same thing from them when I was small? It is normal in life.

“Mostly they wanted selfies. But they didn’t speak long about football because they saw also that I was in a hurry and I didn’t have much time.”

Clement, the former Beveren, Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco manager, has not been given long to settle at Rangers.

His team has impressed during his first four matches and they go in to their last four meeting with Hearts on the back of an emphatic 5-0 midweek triumph. Still, it is asking a lot of him to secure a final spot in just his fifth outing.

However, the man who landed three consecutive Belgian Pro League titles in his homeland as well as the Belgian Super Cup believes he is well prepared for the rematch with opposition who his charges needed an extra-time goal to beat on Sunday.

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“Nothing has surprised me because I don’t take decisions out of the blue,” he said. “I have watched a lot of games before I came. I wanted an idea about the competition and about Rangers so I looked at all of their games. I spoke with several people who played here. This is a famous league in the world so people know what is happening.”

Clement is certainly confident that Danilo, Cyriel Dessers and Sam Lammers, who have often struggled to produce their best form since moving to Govan in the summer and have come in for criticism from supporters and commentators, can find the target against Hearts. However, he stressed they will not be prolific in every outing. 

 “I am starting to see more and more of what I want up front,” he said. “It becomes more natural for the players. But it doesn’t mean that we are going to score easy goals now all of a sudden.

“For me, the kind of football that I love to watch is the football Man City plays, but it doesn’t mean we are going to play that way. I want to make it really clear. We have to look at the qualities of the team and what the team really needs. That is most important.

The Herald: Rangers manager Philippe Clement, right, Alex Rae, centre, and Steven Davis, left, in training at

“But even then, for them, with all their qualities, it is not every game they score four or five goals. It is not that simple in football. We need to be efficient, we need to do the good things, we need to take our moments.

“We did it in a good way in Dundee. But there is an opponent on the other side who can be really good and do amazing things to avoid you scoring goals. That is part of football also – that you don’t concede.

“I’m not busy with the noise. I’m busy with what I see in training and the games. I was not the biggest talent as a player. I also had criticism in my own career. It’s about seeing the potential of players and giving them the tools to develop. I’m not busy with what other people think about my players.”

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Not having centre half John Souttar, midfielder Nicolas Raskin, winger Rabbi Matondo and forward Kemar Roofe for this match is far from ideal for Clement. However, the positive impact that Leon Balogun made on Tayside in midweek pleased him greatly and make him confident he has more than enough talent to win the tie and go through.

“I have confidence in the squad,” he said. “I want to build a squad of more than just 11 or 14 players. Players need to take their chances and Leon toon his chance. But I don’t want to point out one player as an example. Almost all the players have shown examples, in different ways, in different games.

“So it’s not only about getting players in who have been injured, it’s about making sure they play well again in the second and third games and that they grow. It’s also important for the guys who haven’t played yet that they keep on pushing to get a chance. It’s all these things combined.”