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Philippe Clement commended Rangers for their handling of a challenging visit to Livingston and urged the Scottish football governing body to contemplate scheduling Sunday evening matches for teams competing in Europe on Thursdays.
The manager of the Rangers observed his team secure a 2-0 victory at the Tony Macaroni Arena, only 72 hours after a draining 2-1 win against Sparta Prague in the Europa League.
Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibernian, and the team from Ibrox have all faced the challenge of playing domestic games on Sunday afternoons following European matches on Thursday nights this season. Clement believes that Scotland should adopt the approach of other leagues and give teams more time to recover in these situations.
The Belgian stated that he believes it would be more beneficial for Scottish football to follow this approach, as it is also practiced in Belgium and other leagues.
For those who have not experienced playing, they may wonder about the distinction between an extra six or eight hours. However, these hours of rest and recuperation make a significant impact on the body’s recovery. For players, this may seem like a short amount of time to recover.
“We compete every 72 hours, resulting in a 12-game schedule over the course of approximately 38 days (following the international break). Therefore, proper recovery methods such as nourishment, hydration, cryotherapy, and sleep scheduling are crucial.”
It is crucial, in my opinion, that teams participating in European matches on Thursday evenings also play on Sunday evenings. This is already common practice in many leagues and could be something to consider in the future.
Clement altered four aspects for the Livingston match and acknowledged that his choices were affected by the strenuous effects of the Sparta game.
“Indeed, I considered the potential risk of allowing Danilo to start today, given that he completed 1,300 meters of high-intensity runs on Thursday,” he stated. “I took that into account.”
The victory over Livingston was achieved thanks to a goal scored by Cyriel Dessers in the first half and a penalty converted by James Tavernier in the second half. Tavernier had previously missed a penalty earlier in the game. Additionally, Rangers had two goals in the first half, scored by Connor Goldson and Ross McCausland (making his first start), disallowed after being reviewed by VAR.
Clement stated that the game was challenging due to the conditions of the plastic pitch, which did not work in our favor for the style of football we aim to play.
“Additionally, the game will begin at 12 PM following a European match. The combination of experiencing success in Europe before returning to domestic play can be mentally challenging for players.”
The team displayed a strong mindset and positive attitude in playing a mature game, as we did not make any mistakes and earned a well-deserved victory.
“When a penalty is missed and a goal is disallowed, it can lead to a dangerous situation where the team may lose points due to unfavorable circumstances. However, overall, it was a positive afternoon.”
Livingston’s losing streak continues as they head into the international break. Despite a disappointing first half, manager David Martindale remains unfazed by their current situation.
“We are used to being in this situation,” he stated. “While we may currently be at the bottom of the league in terms of goal difference, it is not uncommon for us to go through periods where we do not win a game for five matches in most seasons.”
“We simply need to refocus and stay on course. I am not heavily reliant on statistics or data; instead, I prefer to take things one game at a time and focus on what we can manage. With any luck, this approach will result in strong performances and ultimately, positive outcomes.”