Rangers: Clement calls out SPL refs over Cantwell treatment

Rangers: Clement calls out SPL refs over Cantwell treatment
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 26: Todd Cantwell of Rangers gets taken down in the box by the keeper, penalty to Rangers follows during the pre-season friendly match between Rangers and Olympiacos at Ibrox Stadium on July 26, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Rangers manager Philippe Clement has officially addressed the general hatchet treatment of born-again playmaker Todd Cantwell, and condemned the thuggery which effectively led to his current injury, leaving him sidelined at least into deep March.

The ex-Norwich man, whose game saw a sharp upturn on the arrival of Mohamed Diomande, has most definitely improved in form in calendar year 2024, with the competition getting the best from him and a statement signing by Clement helping to raise his game.

But the cost was St Johnstone (and others) hatchet man targeting Cantwell for rough treatment and Clement wasn’t overly clement on it:

“For sure, it (the treatment) will not have helped. Todd has made a really positive evolution in that way. His attitude is much better the last couple of weeks. So, for sure, in this game he could have been more protected because there were a few challenges. For sure, I remember one in the midfield where he gets flipped over and for me those are always yellow cards. But I am not a referee so for sure I’m not going to go in those discussions because I am a coach, not a referee.”

He’s right of course, there’s no question Cantwell gets targeted.

Unfortunately it’s for the same reason Alfredo Morelos did – his attitude and nonsense in the press/social media.

While we’re seeing a tonne less of the trolling and battles with certain ex-Parkhead morons going on, that stuff and the reputation that it created sticks, and like Morelos, he’s become the ‘bad guy’, the ‘easy target’ – he made a stupid rod for his own back and just like the former Rangers striker, he’s the scalp the thugs want to take.

That he’s stopped doing it so much doesn’t make a massive difference, his reputation goes before him.

Clement went on:

“I don’t think refs need to protect one player more than the other. I think their job is to follow the rules of the game and to help us have a good product of football. Then that helps so that the game is fluent, that the ball is a lot in play, that there is football. So if there are consecutive fouls, to stop the rhythm, they are the only ones who can stop that and get us the fluent football. In that way referees can help. But I don’t think they need to protect one player more than another because that’s not correct, then they start with the wrong mentality towards the game. I will never ask that. I think it would be interesting to have a meeting in private with managers and referees to share opinions from both sides.”

We agree and disagree with this. Refs do have a duty of care to all players – the ref must take action when a player is being clearly slayed by opponents, but equally it’s not all about protecting one player in particular – he must show even-handed treatment of all 22.

But that said we also know Clement is canny with the press – he says what he wants to say, not necessarily what he thinks, and he’s careful about how he words things.

He’s well aware Cantwell comes under heavy stress in matches, and he even alludes to the boy causing some of it himself with his prior attitude, but it still doesn’t justify hatching a man from behind and injuring him just because he said something dumb on TikTok.

Rangers have lost an in-form Cantwell because of this.

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