"It's crazy" - Rangers boss heaps praise on 'quality' captain and reveals 'honest' chats with Tavernier

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Rangers boss Philippe Clement heaped praise on team captain James Tavernier as he scored twice to put his side top of the Scottish Premeirship.

Rangers head coach Philippe Clement refused to get excited despite going top of the Scottish Premiership for the first time in his tenure with a comfortable 3-0 victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Sunday afternoon.

The Rangers boss saw his team take full advantage of Celtic's slip up against Kilmarnock as to go two points clear at the top of the league thanks to an outstanding first half strike from Mohamed Diomande and two late penalties from James Tavernier and the Belgian was delighted with the performance of his side in Perth.

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"It was a really strong performance today, for sure in these circumstances. It was not a surface where we can our normal football, what we train every day, what the lads have shown over the last weeks and months - so we had to adapt. The team is ready for that now, we had a few practice games in that way, like Dumbarton, St Mirren, in really difficult circumstances and they understand now they need to play a different kind of football in those moments if you have that kind of surface and we did it in a really good way today" explained Clement.

The 49-year-old Rangers boss pointed to the game being key in his squad's progression and singled out his captain for special praise after Tavernier made it 120 goals for the club in Perth.

"We had a dominant performance, there was never a doubt in the game. I think we didn't have a shot on target against us. We scored three goals and it could have been more - it's really pleasing. Starting with 11 players but all the guys who came in, they gave the team extra energy and quality. You see the team growing. The new players came in and got extra minutes and showed quality.

"It's crazy (Tavernier scoring 120 goals). I don't know if there ever was a defender scoring more goals in Scotland or Europe. He has a lot of quality in that but not only penalties, he's scored important other goals like in the cup final, for example. And he is doing a really good defensive job because in the first place, he is a defender for me, not an attacking player. He is not busy with stats to play for himself but for the team like they all are" said the Belgian.

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Clement also revealed that a chat with the Rangers skipper when he first arrived at the club was pivotal in the club's remarkable turnaround and why his team mates are helping to share the captain's leadership role collectively.

"I am happy with Tav, he was the first player I talked with, that's normal when you come into a building and you know the fire is going on, I wanted to see how to stop it as fast as possible so I wanted all the information, it's normal to speak first with the captain. He was really open and honest about all things in the club, dressing room and himself also. He feels good also, there is a divided leadership with several players who take responsibility but they have a really good connection together. If you're all alone you can be alone in the desert, now he has a few lieutenants around him that help also and are very influential. It's important to have that.

"If I see how they are playing now compared to four months ago we cannot speak about a beginning because that was the beginning. There is a lot of room for progression. It's clear they all are growing in these past couple of months without exception. We are going to invest a lot with all the staff in them and they invest a lot in themselves and the group because every day everyone is super focused. I didn't have any problems with that in these four months - that' s the first time in a team I didn't have to smack somebody who is not focused or not motivated. It's a really important thing but they all feel they are in a really special story and it can be a really special one" added the Gers boss.

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