Today’s semifinal win over Hearts was the latest step in manager Philippe Clement’s increasingly convincing overhaul of Rangers’ squad.
Naturally no real changes have really been made to the personnel, the plan is that that will come later.
What instead has changed is completely psychological. Tactics, system, mental fortitude.
Indeed, Clement said on his unveiling that he wanted to have the best tactics, fitness, strength and mentality in the league – that his Rangers squad would be number one in these areas over Celtic.
While it’s early days, it’s rare to recall a Rangers manager having this level of impact this quickly, whereby the players do look very much on the same page as the manager and are completely buying into what he is doing.
Yes, the starting XI today wasn’t quite right, a front three behind Danilo of Sima, Lammers and Cantwell just didn’t work – and these are the things Clement is learning.
We predicted Wright over Cantwell, and he made that change sharpish at half time after a rather underwhelming display from the ex-Norwich man.
And this is the difference – he is actually seeing what we are seeing, and he is often making the changes based on a sharp acuity of what is happening.
Unlike, for example, Mental Mick, who would hijack winning positions with ridiculous and random subs, Clement brought the balance in at half time, removing Cantwell and replacing with Scott Wright.
The impact was pretty much instant and the match was ours.
He also explained he’d have likely started with Ridvan but didn’t want to overload the young Turk just yet, given his long history with injury.
These are wise decisions when he explains them.
There are other areas where fans might want to see other changes – despite his impressive performance today, James Tavernier will always be marmite to supporters and some might want to see Dujon Sterling start.
And Connor Goldson too remains untouchable, albeit in this case the injury to John Souttar has tied Clement’s hands there.
But overall, the players picked are doing the job, and when they don’t, changes are made.
Clement is bringing something good to Rangers, and the supporters already love him.
He’s smart, he’s wise, he’s sharp, and he’s managing from the sidelines as a boss should.
The players clearly respect him.
In terms of a psychological improvement, it is night and day.
Improving the actual player quality may come in January, but for now, the biggest possible improvement is definitely happening.
It is definitely clement at Rangers at the moment.