Glasgow Rangers have been in formidable form under Philippe Clement since he took charge in mid-October, winning six and drawing two of his first eight matches in charge, thus heralding a new era at the club.
It has been a remarkable turnaround, especially from where the Gers were just a few weeks ago under Michael Beale, and the Belgian will be hoping to salvage something from a season which looked all but over last month.
With a League Cup final to look forward to, plus the chance of securing European football beyond Christmas, there is no doubt the incentives are there for the players. The question now is, can they take them?
The results have been good, and the performances have also been a lot better under Clement than what they were under the previous regime and, over time, his style of play will rub off on the players.
Another key aspect during the early stages of the Belgian’s reign is the fact he does not shy away from utilising youth talent.
Ross McCausland has forced his way into the senior side of late and has even been rewarded with a new and improved contract.
The Northern Irishman won’t be the last to make a breakthrough under the former Club Brugge boss, especially when there are talents such as Zak Lovelace showing maturity way beyond his tender years.
Zak Lovelace’s youth statistics
The 17-year-old first came to prominence during his spell at Millwall and became their second youngest player ever when he emerged from the bench against Coventry back in 2021 aged just 15, and he went on to make another four appearances for the side.
This clearly impressed Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who swooped in and brought him to Ibrox last summer, and it is already looking like a wonderful piece of business.
He was praised by former sporting director Ross Wilson on his arrival, who said: “We are delighted to welcome Zak to Rangers. He is an exciting young player and one we are sure will progress here.
“He has developed really well with the staff at Millwall and we can see lots of potential in him.”
This potential has seen the teenager make four appearances for the senior side having impressed for the B team. A return of 19 goals and ten assists across 38 academy matches is enough for any manager to sit up and take notice and Beale even gave him a cameo in the final Old Firm clash of last season.
He was given his first start for the club in October and, while the youngster was taken off due to injury, it was a promising display which showed plenty of grit and heart.
Clement could perhaps utilise him when he recovers from the hamstring injury sustained against St Mirren, especially with Abdallah Sima only on a loan deal.
Abdallah Sima’s season in numbers
The temporary signing of the Senegalese winger was certainly one of the better summer signings Beale managed to pull off, and it is a pity he will only be at Ibrox for one season.
According to Football Insider, however, the Light Blues are exploring a potential permanent move for the youngster in the coming weeks – although they face stiff competition from a host of clubs.
The report states that there are some unnamed European clubs after his signature too and, despite his promising start, the Gers could miss out on him.
In 23 matches this season, the 22-year-old has scored nine goals while grabbing an assist and has certainly made the left-wing spot his own.
The winger even ranks second across the whole squad for goals and assists in the Premiership (six) while also ranking third for shots per game (2.8) and second for successful dribbles per match (1.8), clearly proving to be one of the finest attacking players in the current first team.
Clement must avoid Rangers swoop for £9m-rated “wizard”, he’d be Boyd 2.0
Clement must avoid making a mistake in the transfer window
His pace and eye for goal have been big assets for the Gers so far, and they will be missed should a permanent deal not be struck with Brighton.
In Lovelace, however, Clement has a youngster who could not only take over from Sima in the long term, but also work well with the current players in the squad – with Danilo one asset who would simply love him.
Lovelace and Danilo could be deadly
The Brazilian striker cost the club a staggering £6m when joining from Feyenoord in the summer, and a player worth that much, especially in Scotland, needs to hit the ground running.
He did manage to score twice during his first five matches for the club, yet he started only three of these and there were question marks surrounding whether Beale knew how to utilise him properly.
Danilo’s statistics this season
Shots on target per game
Successful dribbles per game
Stats via Sofascore
The striker had scored 14 goals during the 2022/23 season for the Dutch side and clearly had a keen eye for goal, yet the former QPR manager failed to really give him a proper chance in the starting XI.
This has changed under Clement, however, with Danilo starting four of his eight matches in charge and this number surely would have been higher had he not been recovering from a fractured cheekbone when the Belgian took over.
The 49-year-old has clearly restored some confidence in Danilo as the forward has scored three goals and grabbed four assists, indicating that he is enjoying his football a lot more now.
Lovelace would be a wonderful partner for him on the left wing, using his pace and creativity to get into dangerous areas, from which he could supply Danilo with countless chances during matches.
Of course, the 17-year-old still has plenty to learn and is developing all the time, but he could be a wonderful asset for Clement to have in the first-team squad.
Danilo has shown how quickly he has adapted to a suitable style of play and Lovelace would also thrive under the Belgian, as his tactical system gives his attacking players the freedom that Beale didn’t afford his players during his dismal reign.
While the club won’t see the former Millwall starlet for another couple of months, he is a player who could save Clement some money, especially if Sima has to return to his parent club at the end of his loan spell.