It is not long since Rangers season looked to be borderline unsalvageable.They were roundly booed from the Ibrox pitch after defeat by Aberdeen at the end of September, their third league defeat in their first seven games, and a result that ultimately cost Michael Beale his job.
That was followed by a dismal showing away to Aris Limassol in the Europa League under caretaker boss Steven Davis, where confidence among the players appeared to have hit rock bottom.
When Philippe Clement was appointed as Beales successor, he looked to have an almost impossible job on his hands, but in less than four weeks he has transformed the mood in
Govan.A superb first-half performance at home against Sparta Prague earned the Belgian his fifth win from his first six games in charge, after which the same players that were booed under Beale were cheered to the rafters and applauded down the tunnel.
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“[Getting the fans on side] is maybe the most satisfying thing from this evening, because its crucial,” Clement said after the 2-1 win.
“When it was not the case, maybe we would not have the energy to fight to the end. Its a big strength of this club, and Im really happy that the synergy is back – I look forward to having a lot of evenings like this.”
Todd Cantwell, who was superb in an unfamiliar role on the right, was also full of praise for for the home fans.
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“It was an immense atmosphere tonight,” he said. “I think the fans will feed off what they see on the pitch.
“First half we really couldnt have done much more, we were 2-0 up. And I think the fans repaid us in that sense to give us a bit of support in that way.”
It was not hard to see why the fans are so buoyed at present. Sparta are no mugs, but they could not live with Rangers in the opening 45 minutes.
“This is the best Ive seen Clements team play,” former Rangers captain Lee McCulloch said on Sportsound.
“They are fluid and they are getting the ball forward. When they lose the ball, they are all getting back and working hard.
“Sparta Prague have been all over the place – which has been caused by Rangers press.”Rangers legend Ally McCoist was similarly impressed on TNT Sports: “Rangers have looked a different side – enthusiasm, ability, determination. Guys like Sima, Cantwell, Barisic have had a bit of a lift.”
Even when Sparta came into the contest in the second half, Rangers were able to ride it out and stood firm where they may have crumbled not long ago.
“Youve got to credit Rangers, they defended well and did well to spoil the game,” former Ibrox forward Steven Thompson said. “Even in added time, they never allowed Sparta to get out their own half.
“Its huge. They know that if they beat Aris Limassol, thats them. Over the piece, it was a deserved win. The new manager will be delighted with his team.”
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