By Democrat sports reporter
Rangers have appointed former Monaco and Club Bruges head coach Philippe Clement as their new manager on a three-and-a-half-year contract.
The 49-year-old former Belgium defender succeeds Michael Beale, who was sacked earlier this month.
Clement, who was sacked himself by Monaco in June after 18 months in charge when his side finished sixth in Ligue 1, was chosen for the Ibrox job by a panel which included the former Rangers and Scotland star Graeme Souness.
Rangers chairman John Bennett said the Belgian was “the outstanding candidate across all the key criteria”.
However, if the truth be told, there are many Rangers fans who would have preferred it if Souness himself, pictured right, were appointed to the plum post, even if only for an interim period until things settled down at Ibrox, where there have been turbulent times on and off the park in recent years.
Bennett said that the “carefully planned and comprehensive recruitment process” had been carried out by a team led by chief executive James Bisgrove, members of the board and former Rangers player and manager Graeme Souness during 10 days over which they interviewed “several high-calibre candidates”.
The Scottish Premiership club had reportedly reduced their shortlist to two – Clement and Yokohama F Marinos head coach Kevin Muscat, the former Rangers defender.
Bennett pointed to Clement’s “track record of winning titles” – lifting his domestic league trophy three seasons in a row – as the Belgian was named Rangers’ 19th manager.
Clement told Rangers’ website he is “hugely excited by this chance to achieve success at one of Europe’s most iconic clubs”.
Rangers say the “new management team” will meet the playing squad for the first time on Monday as they prepare for the visit of Hibernian on Saturday, which will begin his task of overhauling Celtic’s seven-point lead.
Clement got his first taste of management in two spells as caretaker at Bruges, where he had also been a player for 10 years.
He would become a manager in his own right with Beveren and Genk, who he led to the league title, before repeating the success in the next two seasons back at Bruges.
Clement succeeded Niko Kovac as Monaco boss in January 2021, improving their league placing from sixth to third.
However, they failed to reach the Champions League group stage after losing to PSV Eindhoven and were beaten by Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League knockout stage after finishing runners-up in their group behind Ferencvaros.
Monaco dismissed Clement when a poor run at the end of the league season meant they just missed out on qualifying for European football this season.
Clement played for Beerschot, Genk and Coventry City, as well as making 38 appearances for his country.