When Philippe Clement arrived at Sk Beveren in the summer of 2017, the setting for a maiden managerial role, one of his first actions was to hire a psychologist.

Clement wanted to change the mindset of a team who was used to only surviving in Belgium’s top flight and would indeed oversee such form that Genk came calling for his services just five months later, but that was not the reason for this particular request. Instead Clement wanted experts to help him understand each individual player, in order to better connect and tailor messages to each individual person.

“For a team like Beveren on a low budget, asking for extra budget is a big ask,” was how one source described the move.

“Philippe found it very important, the club went along with it and brought in an external agency. They could then give him a report about how to communicate with different personalities. It was one of the first times that I saw a coach work like that. Football has evolved to have psychologists in-house, at that time it wasn’t the case but Philippe immediately understood the importance of each person. He’s someone who genuinely cares about his players.”

For a club on a small budget, without such facilities in-house, it was an intentional call and while preaching a consistent message to his Beveran squad that more was possible on the pitch, the decision paid off handsomely. Clement’s man-management helped change the tone of the dressing room, triggering a run of results which would earn a move to Genk. The 49-year-old's first Belgian Pro League as a manager would follow. Two successive titles at Club Brugge were next before Monaco came calling in early 2022. It’s been quite the ride for a coach who only started his managerial journey six years ago and is now in position at Ibrox.

This particular anecdote summarises many of the key attributes Clement boasts which have earned the trust of the Ibrox board. Over the past week, the Rangers Review has spent time talking with those who’ve worked alongside the newly-appointed manager. No names are quoted to allow anonymity.

Here’s what we found out about Philippe Clement, the 19th permanent manager of Rangers.

Rangers have appointed Clement at a crucial juncture. Yesterday he officially became the 19th man to assume the role of Rangers manager, but the fourth to do so since Steven Gerrard’s departure in the autumn of 2021.

The past two years have been, in a word, tumultuous. Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Michael Beale have both been hired and fired around the autumn while domestic success has remained elusive. James Bisgrove and John Bennett backed Beale but Clement is their first appointment as CEO and Chairman, with the board also relying on the counsel of Graeme Souness who was involved in the process. For the duo, it was Clement's track record of winning that stood out alongside a firm belief that he has the stature to excel in this unique role. With a history of competing in the Champions League, developing players and adapting to his circumstances, all while winning league titles.

READ MORE: Inside Philippe Clement's Rangers appointment - Chris Jack 

Seven points behind Celtic, Clement inherits a delicately poised situation. On one hand, there's a clear roadmap to the League Cup, offering a quick dose of silverware that could catalyse his Ibrox career. Despite defeat against Aris recently, Rangers can still qualify from their Europa League group and have two home ties in the league with Hibs and Hearts on the horizon. On the other, with seven games before the next international break on November 12, any slip could prove perilous in the title race. Not only did the Rangers board require a man who could produce the football required for success, but they also needed somebody capable of leading in this current climate and changing the mood.

Clement has been out of work since he was sacked by Monaco at the end of last season, having taken over at a time of turmoil in France and finished third in his first season before a disappointing end to his second and final campaign with the Ligue 1 side. Before that, three titles on the spin at Genk and Club Brugge in Belgium earned him a reputation as one of the continent’s most exciting young coaches.

“He is used to working with clubs where you need to perform, where there is pressure from the fans and media. He is capable of meeting those standards and capable of working under pressure,” was the view of Thomas Buffel when he spoke recently to the Rangers Review about his former coach.

“He's a massive, charismatic guy. When he walks into a room he’s got this presence because of his size. He came into the club and created this feeling of being a family. And he's somebody that likes to get everybody around him. That's one of the reasons we had success initially,” was how a source at Monaco described his impact in France. 

Another source used this example of Clement’s leadership under tricky circumstances: “He showed at Monaco when they were suffering, Philippe will make players believe they can do so much more than they have been. For a team in a crisis or a squad low on confidence, he can be decisive in these moments.”

Clement enjoyed a successful playing career, winning 10 major honours in Belgium and 38 international caps. Ten of those playing years were spent at Brugge, where he initially returned following retirement.

But Clement did not fall into the trap of believing that his success on the pitch would immediately translate to a career in the dugout. He spent years working in the academy and as part of the backroom staff at Brugge, only venturing into management six years later. A source explained that this is one trait which has contributed to his success as a young coach. Clement is open and willing to work with experts, always seeking to learn rather than presuming to know. The months spent since leaving Monaco have been used to study, watch and learn rather than “playing golf” as others might. Multiple sources described him as a “workaholic” who’s obsessed with details and sets the tone of a building with his work ethic.

“He cares about small details in players' lives,” one former colleague explained. “It can be small things like knowing if players might be tired because they’ve got young children. But this one-minute conversation can mean a lot to players.”

“Philippe is demanding but in a personal manner because he is also interested in the person, the stuff behind the player or colleague and he’s a winner. He hated losing and wants to win which is always good for a coach,” said an executive who worked with him in Belgium.

When asked during one stage of the interview carried out by the Rangers board which of his titles was the most important, Clement did not speak about his first as a manager, but his second, and third overall, at Club Brugge. Why? Because it was demonstrative of what’s even harder than winning - winning again. After other teams have worked you out and players require motivating once more. If ever an attitude was needed at Ibrox, it's this one.

Clement is not a manager who has a set style of play or a favoured formation that he’s rolled out at each previous club. Speaking to RangersTV last night he referenced an attacking and creative style before discussing "automated" movements and "interchanging" positions.

“He always tries to adapt to the profiles he has available and to the opponent. When pressing he’ll often use a man-for-man approach everywhere on the pitch - this is typically Belgian,” was how one current manager in the Belgian top flight described Clement’s style.

READ MORE: Playing for Philippe Clement - Style of Play, systems and pressure

“If you dominate the league with teams like Club Brugge or Rangers, that's good enough because the individual quality is clearly higher than that of the opponent. But if the league is more balanced, like Ligue 1, then it can become a problem from my point of view.”

Clement is known to tailor his approach to the players he has available. At Club Brugge, he often favoured a back three during his second season whereas in France a 4-4-2 was often utilised to accommodate two strikers. Importantly, while he’ll adapt to the opponent in aspects of his tactical plan, this should not extend to a constant tweaking and tinkering game-upon-game that is at odds with the consistency required by the current squad. Rangers need identity first and foremost to be successful domestically. It may take Clement time to find a balance, especially at this stage of the season, but once uncovered the focus will, hopefully, be on familiarity.

“I think the biggest thing for him is not necessarily about the opponent, he tries to stick to his principles as opposed to adapting his team to play. He won’t always change how he presses, for example” was how one former member of his staff described Clement's approach.

“Once he gets to know the players and then works out his ideas, he will work on specific concepts for his team,” said another.

Having already watched every game Rangers this season in the past few days and with a week of training to come, that process of review is well underway. 

Buffel spoke of the coaches’ focus on automatisms, rehearsed patterns of play in the final third: “He puts a lot of focus on patterns in attacking and defending the box. So these things become a habit when you’re in high-pressure situations during games. In training, he always works with end zones because that means you obtain verticality in your play."

“A style that's creative and scores goals, that's about being dominant and winning. Well structured but with forward ideas,” was Clement’s own assumption.

“To attack, to have a lot of interchanging of positions but for that, you need time. because it's not natural to do this automatism. In the moment it starts to work you get more fluid football and a lot of goals wherever you go. There are the qualities here to do it with these players. Otherwise, I would have not taken this job."

Rangers will hope a blend of adaptability alongside firm identity can strike a chord with this squad which requires such direction.

The new Ibrox manager arrived in Glasgow yesterday with his assistant Stephan van der Heyden, who he's worked with and played alongside previously. Jonas Ivens and Johan van Rumst, who both followed Clement to previous clubs, are not expected to be part of his coaching staff in Glasgow.

Clement is a hands-on coach who leads a large majority of training sessions as opposed to trading off such responsibilities to his assistant. Rangers will also look to appoint a coach to the new manager’s staff who has a past affinity with the club or experience of the league.

Of course, there are also risks attached to this appointment that cannot be overlooked. Adaptability can be a good thing but, as we’ve seen in recent seasons, so too is an uncompromising style which seeks to attack its way to victory domestically in Scotland. Clement will not have faced the repetition of low blocks before as a manager, even as the dominant team in Belgium, that awaits him in Scotland. Will Clement’s style of play work against packed defences and attack with the width, pace and ideas necessary? Can he get the most out of a group that arrived this summer and have failed to hit the ground running? What about a number of others for whom many fans think time is up? And how tricky will all of the above be without any pre-season?

Bennet had emphasised the club would not rush any appointment but the aim was always to have a new manager in place for the visit of Hibs this coming Saturday. Clement's past experience of arriving into a club mid-season, at Genk and Monaco, and his man-management skills leave him well prepared for his first meeting with the group this morning. 

As much as Rangers picked Clement, he’s also picked this opportunity. For a manager looking to continue on an upward trajectory, this job could be seen as a banana skin with two recently sacked coaches bearing witness. The Belgian had other options, including one financially lucrative proposition in Saudi Arabia, but has opted for Ibrox. As Clement stated, he "would have not taken this job" without a belief that this squad has more than it's showing. 

“Of course, I'm a football animal so I've watched all the games from this season in the last couple of days - it's been busy," he said, smiling. 

If that was not enough to put Clement off, so the joke went on social media, then he really was in for the ride.

Wider questions remain and Clement will know there's plenty to prove. In the short term, the task is to stabilise and boost confidence. In the long term, the board will hope a healthy habit of winning leagues can resurface. Because if there's one way to make everyone feel better, it's winning football matches. And Clement is the 19th man entrusted, permanently, to do just that at Ibrox.