AS HIS faltering team ceaselessly shed points, Philippe Clement keeps pace with his onfield dithers as he increasingly shows signs of parting company with the plot.

How else can you explain the Ibrox gaffer’s take on the goalless draw against Dundee last night that saw his side fluff the chance to put the pressure on the champions?

Like the previous outing against Ross County, it was a must-win encounter for the Govan club. After a 3-2 nosedive in Dingwall and a blankety-blank performance at Dens Park, Celtic are three points clear with only five games to go until the curtain falls on the current Premiership campaign on May 18.

Included in that list of hurdles is a fourth derby meeting of the season at Parkhead on May 11 which may – or may not – be the day Brendan Rodgers’ men lift their twelfth crown in 13 years.

TALKING HEAD…Philippe Clement explains why Dundee were “really lucky”.

It may be fair to say the only thing the Ibrox club have managed to get on target with a degree of accuracy in their past few games has been their unerring ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

Only a week or so ago, Clement was being hailed as some sort of managerial mastermind by more than a few folk who should know so much better than to make swift appraisals of anyone’s qualities.

The Belgian has been caught on the back foot and some of his spoutings have mystified your humble scribe, as I’ve already stated on more than a couple of occasions.

After watching the action from Tayside on TV, I awaited the words of wisdom from this guru of the technical area.

What in-depth analysis could he offer as an insight of his team’s most recent stumble, a sequence of eight games in which they have won only two?

I’m still waiting.

Instead, we received some waffle about how Dundee had been “really lucky” and their goalkeeper had performed miracles in keeping the eager, dominant visitors at bay.

And when this seemingly unsurpassable barrier had been exposed, there were team-mates “standing on the line to block the shot or header”.

Really? I must have nodded off at strategic points during the live transmission.

Clement, speaking to Sky Sports in the immediate aftermath, blethered: “The ball didn’t go in and that’s the story of the day.”

Okay, dear reader. So far so good.

NO GOAL…the moment “really lucky” Dundee had a goal chalked off for offside after Amoudo Bakayoko netted in the 22nd minute.

Adopting the expression of the condemned man who had just been offered a last cigarette, he continued: “The goalkeeper on the other side also made a few good saves, they saved a few good balls on the line. So, that part of luck was not on our side and, because of that, you don’t get a result.

“We had enough chances to kill the game off. There were a few times they were really lucky in a defensive way. Good goalkeeper also, good saves.”

Right, Phil, we get the drift – young Jon McCracken is destined for greatness. Anything else that might illuminate a fairly drab display which was mirrored in the scoreline?

“We also didn’t have anyone with the spark to make the big difference,” remarked the coach fired by AS Monaco last June. “Or when it happens there was somebody standing on the line to block the shot or the header.”

If I hadn’t witnessed the exhibition, I would have had the impression the home goal had been under siege from start to finish and somehow a gallant Dundee bunch had survived to steal a point.

Bizarrely, Clement added: “We are still a team who have scored a lot of goals this season. One week ago, we scored three goals against Celtic, so it doesn’t disappear in one moment.

“I saw all the effort from my team, they had organisation and didn’t give away chances like they did against Ross County.

“They created chances, but they didn’t put the ball against the net, which is the most important thing in football, but if they keep pushing like this then their goalscoring will come back again.

“Don’t take conclusions out of one game where you didn’t score.”

The only team to put “the ball against the net” were the hosts when Amoudo Bakayoko tucked one behind Jack Butland midway through the first-half, but it was quite correctly ruled out for offside.

With breathless anticipation, I now await the next penetrative prognosis from egghead Clement after his team’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts at Hampden on Sunday, 24 hours after the holders face Aberdeen at the same venue.

I wonder just how “lucky” the Edinburgh outfit will be at the national stadium.


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