PHILIPPE Clement has outlined to his Rangers players how they can “break that cycle” of failure against Celtic in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final and end a frustrating season on a high with a morale-boosting win that gives them a platform to build on next term.

Clement’s injury-ravaged side are huge underdogs going into the meeting with the newly-crowned Scottish champions, who have won three and drawn one of the Old Firm matches they have played so far during the 2023/24 campaign, at Hampden tomorrow afternoon.

The Ibrox club last triumphed over their Parkhead rivals in a meaningful game in the semi-final of the national cup competition way back in 2022 and their manager is, despite the key players he is set to be missing in Mount Florida, determined to end a disappointing run of results in the world-famous fixture.

He believes if James Tavernier and his team mates can avoid falling behind early on, keep 11 men on the park for the full 90 minutes and convert their scoring opportunities up front they can complete a League Cup and Scottish Cup double and start next season with renewed optimism. 

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“Every cup final is very important,” he said at his pre-match press conference at Hampden yesterday afternoon. “It is winning a trophy, winning a prize. And I know the record of the Old Firms so it is an opportunity now to break that cycle that has been going on for too long.

“And it’s an opportunity to take and to take that moment and grab those moments in the game. That is what I have missed in the last Old Firm games, we didn’t grab our moments.

The Herald: Philippe Clement poses with the Scottish Cup ahead of the final of the Scottish Gas-sponsored“Of course, we got two red cards and they were deserved, there is no discussion about that. That was an important part of the story. So we need to be better in grabbing the moments and for sure we need to be better in starting the game better.

“We have been always close, it has been one goal difference in the two games we lost. It's not as if we lost with a big difference. We were in the game until the last seconds. It is now about taking these moments also and to be better than we were in those games. I want to see more quality from the team, whoever is on the pitch.

“First, we need to focus on this moment and grab it because if I look back at the last three Old Firms, we didn't grab the moments in these games. Not in our offensive actions where we had enough moments to score more, not in our defensive actions and for sure with two red cards. That changed a lot of scenarios.”

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Clement added: “I have stressed to my players the need to avoid red cards. It's one of my principles in our dressing room so that's not new. They were two different red cards [against Celtic]. As I said last time [when John Lundstram got ordered off at Parkhead] it was a split-second decision and a totally wrong one. 

“In these games, everything can be decided in a split second so you need to be switched on all the time and you can win against every opponent in that game. It's a really interesting one. I feel a lot of energy and desire in the team now to end the season in a really good way.

“For sure our beginning of the game needs to be better, for sure. We worked on that the last times and it was not good enough. We are going to try that again in a different way. Sometimes circumstances go against you in a really unlucky way. But let's go full now to have the best start we can.

“Some things happened this season that were not good enough and it is the ambition to make the club better and team better. It's clear we need to do that towards next season.”

Clement, whose Rangers team suffered a late collapse in the Premiership and ended up finishing eight points behind Celtic, has won the Belgian Cup five times as a player and a coach and appreciates from personal experience that lifting silverware in the final game of the season can have a positive impact on a club. 

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“It’s my first chance to win this in Scotland,” he said. “I know the feeling of winning a cup. It’s always special games. As an assistant manager I also managed to win a cup with Michel Preud’homme. 

“That was the first trophy for Brugge after 12 or 13 years. It was also a special moment. I’ve also has a few moments when we didn’t win a cup. It’s a special day because it’s one moment. That’s the nice thing about it – it’s the last game of the season so it’s all or nothing in that moment. 

The Herald: “If you get a win your go on your holiday with the feeling of that climax and a really great moment. That creates a special atmosphere I think.” 

Clement - who refused to say if he would restore John Lundstram, who has served a two match suspension, to his starting line-up - knows that several members of his squad will depart Rangers following the Scottish Cup final. But he insisted the outcome of the match would not have a massive bearing on his summer rebuild.

“I don't think it will be a major difference in decision making,” he said. “Maybe a player can change the mind to stay if he makes something really special out of this game. That can always happen. But we need to make changes.”

A Scottish Cup triumph would go a long way towards easing the pain of missing out on the Premiership – and a lucrative place in the Champions League group stages – but Clement declined to discuss whether a double-winning season could be deemed a success. He is fully focused on ending Rangers’ dire run against Celtic and giving their supporters something to cheer.

“It is not a moment to make an evaluation,” he said. “For me, I am not all season here, I can only make an evaluation on the last six months. We did that already in the club which is why we want to change things to make it better for next season. Of course, winning two trophies is much better than one and winning an Old Firm is better than not winning one. We are going to go full for that.”