RANGERS captain James Tavernier has called on his team mates to repay their manager Philippe Clement for the remarkable upturn in fortunes they have enjoyed in the past three months by maintaining their growing momentum and improving even further.

The Glasgow club underlined once again just how much they have progressed since Belgian coach Clement succeeded Michael Beale back in October when they recorded a narrow cinch Premiership win over Aberdeen at Ibrox on Tuesday night.

Beale’s 10 month reign in Govan came to an end following an ignominious 3-1 home defeat at the hands of the Pittodrie club at the end of September which left them trailing league leaders Celtic by seven points after just seven games.

However, goals from Rabbi Matondo and Todd Cantwell ensured Rangers recorded a vital 2-1 triumph against the same opponents in midweek and moved level on points with the defending champions at the top of the table. 

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No fewer than six of the players who started in the win – Jack Butland, Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Ridvan Yilmaz, John Lundstram and Cyriel Dessers – were also involved the embarrassing reverse they suffered last year.

So what has been the reason for the dramatic turnaround? Their right back and captain feels the changes which former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco manager has implemented and the improvement in morale which he has overseen have been the key factors in their revival.

The Herald: Rangers playmaker Todd Cantwell scores the winner against Aberdeen at Ibrox tonightBut the man who lifted the Premiership trophy at the end of an undefeated league campaign back in 2021 is well aware that, with important league, Scottish Cup and Europa League games coming up, there can be no let up by the Viaplay Cup winners in the coming weeks.

He is eager for Rangers to maintain their current performance levels in all of the competitions they are involved in, keep trying to get better and continue to record victories even if it means having to win ugly.

“We knew we had the players, we knew the quality was always there,” said Tavernier when he was asked about the differences between the two games against Aberdeen at Ibrox. “Small tweaks and tactical things within the team have been made and there’s a real togetherness too.

“We’re showing grit and the mentality the gaffer wants. Since he came in we’ve gone from strength to strength. You get a feel when things are going well and we have that momentum behind us at the moment.

“But it’s up to us as players to keep that going. We knew coming into the Aberdeen game that we needed to take all three points, no matter how well we played. We knew it might be an ugly game, but we actually played really good football and we got all three points.

"The manager has put us in a really good place. The intensity that we're doing behind the scenes on the training ground is really picking up and you can see that with the performances that we're putting in week in, week out.

"We've got great characters in the squad. But the gaffer has brought in a real mentality. He wants perfection no matter what, if it's in the training ground or on the pitch and we're delivering that and we're coming closer as a team with his ideas, and going from strength to strength.

"We're growing as a team and there are still areas that we can improve on, which is a good thing. But we are growing, but last night was a matter of getting three points no matter how we did it and we just did that and we move on to the next one now."

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He added: “It’s another important game at the weekend (against Championship club Ayr United in the Scottish Cup at Ibrox on Saturday). Whoever is asked to play will put in a performance they know is required in terms of standards.

“We’re really looking forward to the weekend now, a lot of lads have won this competition recently so it’s about moving forward and getting into the next round.”

The Herald: The defender has performed consistently well in defence and attack both at home and abroad throughout the season and is currently Rangers’ highest scorer with 17 goals.

However, his countryman Cantwell endured a difficult start to the campaign and was only on target once, in a European League group stage win over Sparta Prague at Ibrox, in the first few months.

The playmaker, who spent a spell on the sidelines due to a knee injury, has now been on target five times in eight appearances. Tavernier, who joked that he had been partially responsible for the resurgence, has been delighted to see him put his barren spell firmly behind him.

The skipper is also pleased that Matondo, the Welsh winger who has been given a run in the first team in the absence of injured forward Abdallah Sima, has pitched in with two goals in his last two starts. 

"Todd's doing really well,” he said. “I always get on his case about being in the No 10 position and staying in the middle of the pitch. If he does that, he gets in the right positions for us and he gets the goals. He can be a real impact player for us. He's been in really good form.

“I'm really happy with the way Rabbi has been going as well, two in two and that said, we, as a team we need players coming on or starting, to put in a performance for the team and I feel everyone who is asked to do a job are doing really well."