Philippe Clement praised Rangers for the way they dealt with a “tricky” trip to Livingston as he called on the Scottish football authorities to consider implementing Sunday evening kick-off times for teams playing in Europe on a Thursday.
The Rangers boss watched his team run out comfortable 2-0 winners at the Tony Macaroni Arena less than 72 hours after an energy-sapping 2-1 victory over Sparta Prague in the Europa League.
Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibernian and the Ibrox side have all had to contend with playing domestic matches on Sunday afternoons after Thursday night European fixtures this term, and Clement feels Scotland should follow the lead of other leagues by allowing teams more recovery time in such situations.
“I think it’s better for Scottish football to do it that way,” said the Belgian. “They do it in Belgium and in other leagues.
“People who have never played may think, ‘what is the difference between six hours or eight hours more?’ but it’s a big difference in the recovery of a body, these hours of sleep and recovery because it’s a really short time for players to recover.
“We play every three days, we will have a schedule of 12 games in about 38 days (after the international break) so recovery is an important part of it. The food, the drink, the cryo, when to sleep.
“It’s important I think in every league that teams that play in Europe on Thursday evening play on the Sunday evening. In a lot of leagues, that’s done so it’s maybe something we can see in the future.”
Clement made four changes for the Livingston game and admitted his team selection was influenced by the gruelling impact of the Sparta match.
“Yes, because for example, Danilo did 1,300 metres of high-intensity runs on Thursday so if I let him start today I take a risk, for example,” he said. “Of course, I looked at that.”
The win at Livingston came courtesy of a first-half goal from Cyriel Dessers and a second-half penalty from James Tavernier, who had missed an earlier spot-kick. Rangers also had first-half goals from Connor Goldson and Ross McCausland – on his first start – ruled out following VAR reviews.
“It was a tricky game, with the circumstances with the (plastic) pitch which is not an advantage for us with the football we want to play,” said Clement.
“Also kick-off at 12 o’clock after a European night. Also having European success and then playing domestically, it’s sometimes dangerous in the heads of the players.
“So the team showed a really good mentality and the right spirit to play a very mature game because we didn’t give away anything and we deserved to win, clearly.
“Also when you miss a penalty and a goal is disallowed, sometimes you get in dangerous games for losing points because the circumstances are not on your side. At the end, it’s a very positive afternoon.”
Livingston go into the international break after suffering a fifth consecutive defeat. Manager David Martindale – who rued a “disappointing” first-half performance – is unfazed by their current predicament.
“This is not an abnormal situation for us,” he said. “Yes, we are bottom of the league on goal difference, but we have gone on spells where we’ve not won a game in five in most seasons.
“We just need to get back on track. I am not big on stats or data, it’s about one game at a time and what we can control. Hopefully that will lead to performances, which leads to results.”