LET’S get something straight right away – Rangers cannot surrender the title to Celtic tonight.

Celtic have already won their third successive crown as far as I am concerned, but, for those pernickety mathematicians out there, they still require one point to make absolutely certain.

The champions hold a six-point advantage with two games to play – Kilmarnock at Rugby Park tomorrow night and St Mirren at Parkhead on Saturday – while Philippe Clement will lead his team into their last Ibrox outing against Dundee tonight with a trip to Tynecastle scheduled for the weekend.

I’m told they get Hearts to keep if they beat them for the sixth time in this campaign.

SHADOW OF CELTIC…Philippe Clement attempts to explain 2-1 loss at Parkhead.

Headlines over the last couple of days have erroneously informed us our neighbours from across the Clyde will hand Celtic the league championship if they do not achieve a triumph over their Tayside visitors this evening.

People really should know better, shouldn’t they? Rangers do not possess a title to lose. The silverware is the property of Celtic and, thankfully, that gorgeous trophy isn’t going anywhere.

The Govan club have lifted the title once in the past 13 years and Ange Postecoglou’s side reclaimed the prize 12 months later.

I reckon next season will be fairly intriguing as well as highly entertaining as the Belgian dug-out mastermind continues to try remove himself from the spectre of Celtic.

Michael Beale’s mid-October replacement seems to have allowed the words of Brendan Rodgers to get inside his napper as he continually references the Parkhead club.

In the fall-out of his team’s 2-1 capitulation in the east end of the city on Saturday, Clement continued to gibber away merrily as he prepared his players for the match against Tony Docherty’s Dens Park side.

The Govan guru is, of course, perfectly entitled to emphasise he has only been in charge of the team in three derbies – two defeats and a draw – over the past 15 where his club have won only three and that includes last season when Yuki Kobayashi and Alexandro Bernabei were in the Celtic defence a week after the Hoops had clinched the championship at Tynecastle.

OH NO…Philippe Clement can’t bear to look against Celtic.

With a straight face, Clement delivered: “For me, there is no gap. If we are both with our full squads, there is no gap.

“A few weeks ago, everyone said there was no gap. In points, there was also no gap because we niggled back seven points and we went longer in Europe.

“So, when there’s full squads, there is no gap. But when you are missing nine players, it’s a big thing. I heard a lot when Celtic were missing two players and it made a big difference. And it was a big difference when they came back.

“So, of course, missing nine makes a big difference. Even with two losses and a draw [against Celtic], we have one point more I think in the last six months. No. There is not a big gap.”

The blethering Belgian, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “If you score the first goal you have another scenario, another dynamic of the game.

“For sure in this game, it would have been different. We had this chance also to do that, we had two good ones to score the first goal. You need to take that moment, it is our responsibility to do it.

“I can tell the fans that people are working really hard to make things better and to change the situation.

“As I said, having that many players out in big parts of the season, and also in the years before, we are going to change that. That is going to also be a major part in recruitment in that way.

“I know fans, they want to see things on the field. They see already a team that keeps on digging in, so that was also one of the concerns in the beginning of the season, that they didn’t fight for the colours, didn’t fight for the team.

“That was not the case in the last couple of months. We had that one game at Ross County, but in all the rest they have been working hard. But we need to still show more quality to make the next step, and everybody is working hard on that.”

INTO THE LIONS’ DEN…Phiippe Clement gets his first taste of Celtic Park as he emerges from the tunnel with Brendan Rodgers before his side’s 2-1 loss on December 30. He suffered the same fate on May 11.

Clement insisted he is up for the challenge ahead and added: “It’s not like I am determined more than ever because I was really determined when I first stepped in the building.

“It’s just the same. But then, you can say more determined in the way that I know the people inside the building better than when I stepped in. And that is a big thing. You know how the fans are.

“They have been sticking behind the team these last couple of months after a disappointing few months. It’s about working hard together to make this club more and more successful.

“Every fan of Rangers knows that we want the best for the club. That we want to work hard for this club. That we want to give our lives for this club, to make it better again.

“But Rome was not built in one day. We need a lot of work here after a lot of work that has been done already in the last couple of months.

“We still have a way to go but I can promise the fans I will work every minute that I am awake to make their dreams come true.”

Makes you wonder what diatribe this football philosopher from Antwerp has prepared for the post match press conference following the Scottish Cup Final a week on Saturday, doesn’t it?


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