PHILIPPE Clement is not thinking about uncorking the champagne just now even though his Rangers team will move to the top of the cinch Premiership this evening if they defeat Ross County by three goals at Ibrox.

The Belgian knows there is an awfully long way to go and a lot of games still to be played before the Scottish title is decided and he is, as he has done since he arrived in this country in October, remaining laser focused on the next match.

He has, however, spent some time considering the benefits of his players cracking open a few beers.

Clement demands high fitness levels, complete commitment and total professionalism from everyone who works under him – but he also knows that having a good camaraderie in the dressing room is vital to any successful team and is not averse to his charges letting their hair down and enjoying themselves as a group.

He revealed that he had sanctioned a night out on the tiles last month and expressed hope that the team bonding exercise will enable Rangers to perform at their very best in the Premiership, the Scottish Cup and the Europa League in the coming months. 

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“I planned a day a few weeks ago,” he said. “I wanted them to go out together and they did and had a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun two days after also when it was training!

“But those things are also very important. Connection between people is so crucial. They need to work hard together, but they need to count on each other also. They need to be there when somebody makes a fault so it's very important to have these human relationships.

“In that way, it's a really amazing dressing room for the moment. The new players have settled already. It is a really nice place to come into.”

Clement added: “You have to be smart these days. And you need to know in what moment (to go out). That’s the big difference with my day. The game has become much more intense than 10, 20 years ago. So you don’t have many moments in a season when you can do it in a good way.

The Herald: “That’s why I told the team when it was the moment to do it. And they did - and they had a lot of fun! That’s good, they are important moments. You maybe only have three of those moments in a season. It’s not much. But it doesn’t mean it cannot happen.

“If I remember my days, I had much more luxury because you build teams that way. Moments in the dressing room and on the field are super important. But evenings like that also help you build relationships, so they are crucial.”

So where did the Rangers players head to on their night out? “Not too much detail or they won’t be happy I said too much,” said Clement. “The most important thing is that everyone had fun and they all enjoyed it. It’s all the small percentages that will help in the end.”

Nigerian centre half Leon Balogun posted a video on social media this week of new signing Mohamed Diomande wearing an Ivory Coast strip in the dressing room the day after Les Elephants had beaten the Super Eagles in the African Cup of Nations final.

Clement was pleased to see midfielder Diomande, who joined in a £4.5m transfer from Nordsjaelland in Denmark during the January transfer window, getting involved in a wind-up so soon after arriving in Scotland and stressed the exchanges with Balogun and striker Cyriel Dessers had been entirely good natured.  

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“They were joking about that, but they are really nice with each other in training,” he said. “There’s never a problem. You see that from the first second that the guys feel really accepted.

“I told the three new boys before they came in when we had a lot of long talks that they would join a really good dressing room. I told the dressing room too that I’d talked to the new guys about that, so I expected it also, that it would continue as it was before. And it has.

“And of course, if you show quality on the pitch it goes faster also. That’s how it works in football. If the other guys see a good player, it’s always faster that they are accepted.

“I’ve seen cliques in a dressing room as a player and a manager. I’ve worked against it as a manager, to try to solve things because that is our job, to unite people and to get them to work together for one goal.

“A lot of small things have been done in the group now and that shows how this group of individuals have become a team. Even when they have a free day, they come in and are happy to be back.

The Herald: “I do not need to say anything about the players not being happy to be home as I do not want them to have problems with their Mrs. But there is a really good vibe. The other thing is that it is important that everyone stays at the same place and with their feet on the ground.” 

If Rangers beat County by three goals tonight and move above Celtic in the Premiership it will give Rangers supporters reason to head out and celebrate. But Clement will continue to drive home the importance of not getting too carried away to his players.

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“What is the use of looking at a league table on day one, day eight, day 17, day 32?” he said. “It is about being on top after the last day. I look at the table in the last two or three days of the season - and before that I put every second of every day that my eyes are open into the work to get as many points as possible. That is controlling the controllables.”