• Importance of performance and result after Premiership struggles
  • Impact of Dessers, Diomande and Balogun
  • Waiting on Sima news after first half injury

Philippe Clement has spoken to the media after the Scottish Cup win over Hearts. Here is what he had to say.

You have another Hampden final to look forward to…

Everybody is really excited. I hear it’s been 22 years since the last Scottish Cup final with the Old Firm. So I think there will be a big rush for tickets and for people to do a lot to be at that game.

How pleasing is it for you after a tough week?

To say it’s pleasing it not a good word. It’s what I expected. It’s what I demanded, it’s what I wanted. It was what I knew I would get from the team, also. I was totally not pleased about the game after Ross County, with how we lost our structure and lost our normal football. Against Dundee we were too much in a rush to score a goal and today we found the right balance again. It’s what we have been doing for a lot of months now. But it’s been challenging in the last couple of months with all the injuries and players in and out. We have been lacking rhythm. But today, if you see the bench, it is stronger again and that’s going to be important in the next couple of weeks when it’s one game a week. Before these cup semi-finals we were the only team that played during the week. It makes a different and you need to look at that if you have three games in seven or eight days. With players coming out of injury you cannot let them play all the minutes. It’s been a puzzle around that but now, in this last part of the season, it’s going to be a challenge in the squad with players coming back. Quality then rises in the training and quality rises in the game also because we have a strong bench.

Can a result like that do a lot for confidence?

No, it doesn’t work that way. If the confidence is now there then you cannot play like that. The confidence has stayed there and the players took the results on the chin. We all did because we were all disappointed with that. But we took the right conclusions and did better things with and without the ball today compared to Dundee and, for sure, Ross County. Like this, we are back where we want to be.

You have conceded early chances recently but today you dominated early on…

That’s like the story of the chicken and the egg. What was first? They started with the right mentality, they wanted to start fast. We put a lot of attention on that. But I did that the same at Ross County. And we did it and we showed more composure on the ball. Also having players back like Diomande helps a lot. He got injured against Celtic and we missed him. Also with other players coming back from injury and missing that rhythm, who played okay games but not at their best level yet. You need to take all these things into account and not throw everything in the garbage. You need to look at the circumstances and that’s what we did and that’s what the players did and that’s why they had confidence in what we were going to do against a really good team.Also credit to Hearts who are having a really good season and have taken a lot of points and who deserve to be in third position. So playing that way against the third best team in the league is a very important thing for the next couple of weeks.

How is Abdallah Sima?

I don’t know yet. We will make that assessment tomorrow or the day after. I hope it’s not too bad but the doctor didn’t speak to me about that. I know from experience you can’t make that assessment now so it will be tomorrow or the day after.

What will these goals do for Dessers after previously lacking confidence?

No people these things totally wrong. And that is what why I try to explain but I know it is difficult if you are a fan or a journalist and you don’t know all the circumstances or how decisions are made. Danilo got a really severe injury and would be out for all the season, and he has been out for months already. So before, Cyriel and Dani were alternating and both were playing. We got Fabio into the building but we needed Fabio on the wing because we also had a lot of injuries there. Cyriel has played a lot of minutes. Look at all the top teams in the world, all the teams that play as many games as we are playing. There is a lot of alternation of the offensive players because you need that freshness to show your quality. If you don’t have that freshness, everything goes a little bit slower and you don’t create the chances any more. That is the reason why I didn’t start with Cyriel on Wednesday. Kemar is also someone who has been out a really long time, and several times in the last couple of years so he is also lacking rhythm. So it is always this puzzle of who to use. Because of that, Cyriel was more fresh today and he could show his quality more than when you are tired if you play every three days and you give that much effort for the team. He works really honestly and hard for the team, with and without the ball.

Has Leon Balogun’s performance given you a headache?

A headache? Yeah maybe, but a nice one. When I came in we had at that moment four really good centre backs with Connor, with John, with Leon and Ben Davies. Ben has also been injured a long time and is coming back now. Connor did a massive job the last couple of months when we have been the best defence. But he looked a little bit tired to me last week. My idea was to let Leon play on Wednesday, to give Connor a breather. But Leon became sick then so there were circumstances where you need to adapt. I know the quality of these four guys, I know they are going to push the next few weeks to be in the team. If I can have more headaches like that in all the positions then I am sure we are going to be really successful the next couple of weeks.

It was an impressive performance from Mohamed Diomande…

It’s a really big credit to our recruitment team because, with our budget, finding somebody with his qualities in January is a huge task. A young player, I said from the beginning this will not be his last stop. He will go higher up, because he is somebody with a lot of quality and personality on the field. So, yes, we missed him the last couple of weeks after the Celtic game. It’s also the other players like Kieran Dowell, Tom Lawrence and Nico Raskin who came out of  injury. They also did a really good job, so I am looking forward now to these last weeks of the season when everybody is going to compete for places to start, to be on the bench, to be in the squad. Our level is going to rise again.