THIS is the first rocky patch that Philippe Clement has had to endure at Rangers since he took over at Ibrox back in October and the first occasion he has really been criticised by supporters.

The Belgian, though, is no stranger to being written off by doubters and then coming back to prove them wrong.

He has been doing it for decades now.

The Govan natives have not been slow to voice their displeasure in the past week as their underperforming heroes have slumped to a defeat to Ross County and a draw with Dundee on their travels and fallen three points behind Celtic in the cinch Premiership table as a result.

For many bealin’ Bears, their chances of being crowned Scottish champions come May and completing the second leg of a domestic treble are, despite their being another five league games to play and 15 points up for grabs, already over. 

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Clement, whose team will attempt to get back to winning ways when they take on Hearts in the semi-final of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup at Hampden tomorrow afternoon, has been unhappy with recent displays and results.

However, he remains convinced that, with players becoming available again in time for the run-in, the Viaplay Cup winners can put their dip in form behind them, enjoy a memorable campaign and add more silverware to their haul of trophies. He stressed that he positively revels in the flak that flies in his direction in the dugout.

The Herald: Philippe Clement's side were held to a goalless draw by Dundee“I know it is part of the job,” he said. “It is like that. I have been more than 30 years in this world and I have been buried a lot of times as a player and as a manager. I know what I am doing in a club, I know what I am doing in this club and we are in the right road together.

“In Club Brugge it is the same. Only winning, only becoming champion, is the only thing that counts. I have been like that all my life. There is nobody that can be more critical than me because I want to win everything.

“Everybody who knows me from when I was a child, if it was playing basketball or tennis or table tennis or whatever sport, I want to win. I made a lot of fights with my wife about that, I wanted that mentality with my children. I did it with them also.

“If I played a game with them and they were three-years-old, I wanted to win. I don’t give anything. That is the mentality that is necessary in clubs like this. But like I said, you need to embrace that.

“It is also because of that you can be successful and you can win trophies and have these exciting moments that will stay there for the rest of your lives. That is what Rangers is about, I know that really well, and that is why I love to be here also.”

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Clement added: “This is Rangers. This is a club where you always need to fight and every point you lose it is like you are going through hell. That is this world and that is good, that is also the challenge.

“It is now interesting to see which players can live in that way. It is an exciting place to be because on the other side you can go also to heaven, when you win games and win trophies.

“In other teams where it is not so important to win points or it is not something dramatic when you lose points. But you cannot go to heaven also because those are not clubs that wins trophies. This is something you need to embrace.”

Clement, who will have Mohamed Diomande available for selection once again tomorrow, is optimistic the return of key personnel will allow Rangers to get back to their very best. He is hopeful his charges will respond positively to adversity.

“We had some bumps along the road and a lot of things had to do with injuries that we had in the squad,” he said. “We made a good assessment in the club about that, about how to avoid it in the future. That will make things better and easier and now it is about taking the maximum out of the situation now.

“It is a growing situation. Against Dundee, Kemar Roofe played his first minutes in how many months? Abda Sima came back after an injury of two, three months and he was important in this game, just not scoring. That is a little bit of rhythm that you miss.

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“Tom Lawrence didn’t play that many minutes in one game from October, Kieran Dowell came back out of an injury. A lot of stories. Dio will be back now. We will grow again in the next couple of weeks and it is about keeping the same resilience in the game and the same mentality that they had before to show their quality on the pitch and taking the points.”

Clement continued: “It is easy to be good and be happy when it goes easy. It is when the going gets tough you see the personality and the character. Players can grow in this. It is a growing experience.

The Herald: “It is not only from nature that you have this, you can grow in that. That is an important part of being part of this club. It is also something that Nils (director of football recruitment Koppen) knows really well.

“It's always exciting to play a semi-final, to be close to a final, to play at Hampden. We had a good experience there before and you're two games away from a trophy. Everybody is really excited about that. The players are hungry. They have a desire to have a new game to prove themselves and that's what I expect also.”