Philippe Clement has hailed the speed with which his Rangers team have improved during his short tenure as boss.
Last month the Belgian took over from Michael Beale, who departed after the Light Blues – already knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers and beaten at home by Celtic – heard the sound of boos yet again after they had lost 3-1 to Aberdeen at Ibrox.
Under Clement, Rangers are six games unbeaten – collecting five wins and a draw – and the 2-1 Europa League win over Sparta Prague on Thursday means a home victory over Aris Limassol later this month will secure progression to the knockout round play-off, with a trip to Group C leaders Real Betis still to go and top spot still achievable.
The former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco manager is happy with progress at Ibrox so far, ahead of the Scottish Premiership game against Livingston in West Lothian on Sunday.
“It is not yet that the team knows what to do in each situation, we are still working on that but that is normal, it is three and a half weeks, really short,” said Clement, who confirmed young forward Ross McCausland is “in talks” about a new contract.
“But it is important that they start to learn what to do as a team against every formation and they are getting better and better at that.
“Everything becomes faster, smoother, because it becomes more natural.
“We are not working with robots or machines we are working with people. You don’t know what is going to happen, there are so many things you can’t control.
“At the moment the players are really focused, really concentrated on every meeting that they are making big steps forward, faster.
“And I have to say this is the fastest way that a team I have worked with has reacted because of the concentration, maybe also because they come from a very low and deep point and they realised it.
“I know if everybody starts to do the things together that we will create a good team, who creates a lot of chances, who doesn’t give away a lot of chances and then it is about fine-tuning.”
Northern Irish forward McCausland, 20, has begun to make his mark at Ibrox this season and Clement hopes he extends a deal which runs out next summer.
Rangers signed McCausland from Linfield in 2019 for a reported fee of £60,000.
Clement said: “We are in talks. It is clear that I am giving him good chances.
“He knows that I believe in him for the future so it is about him and his family to make the right choice and I think the right choice is staying here.”
Clement will come up against Livingston’s artificial surface for the first time and while admitting that he prefers grass, he removed any prospect of excuses being made.
He said: “You can compare it with other sports like, for example, tennis. You have some guys who win Wimbledon and don’t win one other tournament because it’s a really specific kind of surface.
“For me, with artificial, it’s the same. The ball bounces different, the way you pass is different, the speed of the ball is different, the way you keep the ball is also different.
“You cannot go do things like on a normal pitch so you need to adapt but I want a team who will never use these things as an excuse.
“I said it at Dundee, where we were much too late there with the bus and all these things. I don’t want a team that will be stopped by circumstances.
“If they say we don’t need to play on the artificial pitch but on a parking lot we’re going to do that because there is only one thing that’s important and it’s winning games.
“But I’m not a fan in general because, for me, football needs to be played on grass but I had experience with it in Belgium also with St. Truiden, one team who play on artificial so it’s not something new for me.”