IT WAS tantrum o’clock as a petulant Philippe Clement followed his petted lip down the tunnel only moments after the shrill of Matthew MacDermid’s whistle had brought the action to a conclusion in Dingwall.

There was no semblance of the traditional handshake with the opposition manager as the Belgian peevishly ignored Don Cowie while displaying a pathetic disregard for the niceties that are normally observed in our game.

There wasn’t the merest hint of a modicum of decorum as Big Phil skulked off with the air of a disappointed Nosferatu after receiving the devastating news a blood donor had just cancelled an appointment.

SHOUT OF ORDER…Philippe Clement is not happy in Dingwall.

It was fairly evident all was not well with this acclaimed boffin of the dug-out whose good manners and sporting integrity had deserted him at the same time his team stumbled in the title race. I felt his pain and went into mourning for all of a millisecond.

Ross County 3 Rangers 2 was obviously not the scoreline anticipated by Clement, his personal array of acolytes, his stunned and stresed-out players or the team’s increasingly-irritated followers.

His wretched act of pettiness put the tin lid on an afternoon that was clearly not on the Ibrox agenda. After all, it wasn’t that long ago there was ludicrous talk of the quadruple as a possibility.

You read stuff like that and seriously wonder if you have dropped into a parallel universe.

Benfica put an end to that nonsense by denying the Govan hordes the opportunity to leave their peculiar imprint on Dublin when the Europa League Final is showcased on May 22.

In an instant, though, Clement exposed his back. Here was a man under pressure and acting out of character. It was a telling moment of stark self-revelation.

GRIM GOODBYE…Philippe Clement prepares for a quickfire exit.

In recent weeks, the imagined mystique of the manager who was sacked by AS Monaco in June last year has been slowly stripped away. He has guided his team to only two victories in their past seven outings, both against a Hibs side that failed to clinch a top-six finish.

Motherwell won at Ibrox, as did the Portuguese outfit, and there were stalemates with the Lisbon club and Celtic. For the first time in their history, Ross County have sampled success against Rangers or any of the other guises of the club over the years.

Those who were ridiculously quick in their declarations of Big Phil being some sort of mastermind – an “academic of the game,” according to one newspaperman of my acquaintance – and a genuis who was now in the process of manipulating a ┬áseismic shift in power in Glasgow have gone curiously silent.

I didn’t buy into all the hoo ha and hullabaloo and I said so in this column back in December. Check it out here if you doubt your humble scribe’s words of wisdom.

Nothing has been won yet, we cannot lose sight of that. There is every chance some unscripted obstacles and hurdles will have to be overcome in the remaining five league games.

Eight days ago, Celtic prepared for an encounter at Ibrox where the hosts had been installed as favourites by people who should know better. If Clement’s side had won, the fate of the championship was out of the hands of the holders.

Today, dear reader, Brendan Rodgers’ men are four points ahead with their city rivals scheduled to play their game in hand against Dundee at Dens Park on Wednesday.

TUNNEL VISION…a disappointed Clement disappears into the darkness.

The pressure saw Clement’s players buckle at the kness in Dingwall, despite being gifted a howler of an own goal to afford them a half-time lead and the award of the almost-obligitary VAR-assisted penalty-kick to aid their endeavours to claw their way back into the contest.

After eight minutes of stoppage-time, they got what they deserved. Zilch. The better team won. No argument.

By the way, in the interests of fairness, Clement did shake hands and did have a few words with his opposite number Cowie before catching the bus back to Glasgow.

The Belgian would have had much to ponder on the journey home. When he arrived in November, he had a few unkind things to say about his predecessor Michael Beale, who had been unceremoniously jettisoned the previous month.

Big Phil has now caught up with the Englishman, another guru of gobbledegook.

They share the distinction of losing three Premiership games each in this campaign.

That is not title-winning form.




Click Here for Comments >

About Author