It was a summer where the conversations were dominated by talk of rebuilding and refreshing, ins and outs and of a brighter future at the end of an era. The language used over the winter will be somewhat different at Ibrox.

There was barely a week that went by before the end of last term, ahead of the start of the season and after it, that Michael Beale didn’t discuss transfer business. His press conferences were often dominated by links to certain players, the requirement for further additions and, as each arrived, hyperbole about what Rangers would be getting for their outlay and from the latest man to pose with a scarf above his head.

Supporters who expect Philippe Clement to be as transparent, or perhaps even as contradictory at times, as Beale clearly haven’t been paying attention over the last month. The Belgian keeps his cards close to his chest and those who are tasked with teasing information and insights out of him when it comes to his transfer targets will likely be left with little to show for their efforts.

Clement does not seem the kind of manager who will do his business in public. Yet the way he approaches his first window at Ibrox will be intriguing. It will set the tone for the second half of the campaign, and perhaps for the coming years as Rangers go through another period of transition and transformation.

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Clement was asked about potential arrivals during his first press conference as he and James Bisgrove also discussed the process that will result in the appointment of a new technical director at Ibrox. The conversations that will lead to an appointment are still ongoing.

“It was a part of it, like many parts of it,” Clement said when asked what dialogue he had with Bisgrove and chairman John Bennett regarding forthcoming business during his own interviews. “I like to see first what the potential is there already. I don’t want 10 new players every year and make lots of changes. I want to find the key to get the best out of people. We want to use the next weeks and months to do that in the best way. With me, every player starts with a blank slate, maybe not with the fans but that's a different conversation. They'll all get the chance.”

In that sense, Clement has been true to his word. A handful of players have been revitalised since his appointment as individual and collective standards have risen. That does not mean, though, that the squad is ideally suited to the former Monaco manager and that he will not look to make changes to it in January and, more extensively, over the summer.

A right-sided forward and a central striker seem like priority positions that need to be filled for Rangers, despite the sums that were spent to add options from middle to front over the summer. A direct, pacey attacker that carries a goal threat – one that mirrors the attributes of Abdallah Sima on the other flank – would give the side more balance and more natural width. Through the middle, Rangers need a regular source of goals to provide back-up to Danilo, especially given that Cyriel Dessers and Kemar Roofe cannot be relied upon for form or fitness respectively.

Adding players with those attributes would make Rangers a stronger proposition and should increase their chances of silverware success this season. Yet Clement must be cognisant of the knock-on impacts of each move. What would, for example, the drop to number three striker mean for Dessers’ confidence at present or his value come the summer if Rangers look to move him on? Similarly, if Sam Lammers loses his place as the No.10, how attractive does he become to potential suitors? As much as there are doubts over their capabilities, neither can simply be cast aside for six months.

Clement has spoken about the importance of giving players from the academy a chance and has seen Ross McCausland make the most of his opportunity. Yet his game time could be limited if another winger is brought into the club at the same moment as Rabbi Matondo – whose return may well lead to Sima switching flanks – looks to rekindle the form that he showed before being crocked against Motherwell.

The squad remains overloaded in certain areas, with a plethora of attacking midfielders for example, and short in others. Unless that can be properly addressed – and January doesn’t look like the right time for it – then there is little benefit in adding to the wage bill or dressing room if Clement feels that he can work with what he has for now. In many ways, his predecessor was in the same situation and a mid-season arrival poses that problem for managers that need to get the best out of what they have first and foremost.

The group that Clement inherited on his appointment last month was built in Beale’s name and Beale’s image. As the accounts for RIFC plc showed in recent days, it was assembled at considerable cost and questions over the strategy and the value for money are certainly pertinent as part of the post-mortem into Beale’s tenure and analysis of where Rangers find themselves right now.

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It is more important to look forward than look back at Ibrox. That has been the focus for Clement over the last few weeks and a blueprint for the January transfer window is being formulated. Clement is a very different man and manager to Beale, but his first period of wheeling and dealing could be broadly similar in outcome and the approach – almost one of mend it and make do – that was utilised in the first month of 2023 could be rekindled once the Bells have rung.

Beale spent the second half of last term discussing the changes that were going to be forthcoming as he sought to put his stamp on the group that Giovanni van Bronckhorst had left behind. In the end, significant sums were spent on Danilo, Dessers and Lammers as nine players were signed.

His first window was relatively low-key by comparison. Todd Cantwell arrived from Norwich City three weeks after Rangers were able to do business, while Nicolas Raskin put pen-to-paper on a protracted switch with just hours to spare.

The acquisition of the midfielder from Standard Liege addressed a key weakness within the Rangers squad. Raskin had, Beale stated, been tracked 'for a long time' and he fitted the profile as a player that could make an immediate impact as well as one who could potentially have resale value further down the line.

Cantwell ticked those latter boxes, too. A creative influence with his skillset was not necessarily a priority at that stage but he was always going to be required in the longer term. When the deal was there to be done, it made football and financial sense for Rangers to move promptly.

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Clement cannot solely prioritise signings for the here and now or only recruit those who will make an impression in seasons to come. He faces a balancing act as he deliberates over how to spend the budget that he is given by the Ibrox board. The quantum of that budget will, of course, not be made known to the wider world but it is hard to envisage the 49-year-old being given many millions to spend during a period that is notoriously difficult to do business in given the nature of the players available and the positions that clubs find themselves in. Loan moves, perhaps with an option to buy, could make more sense all around.

“Philippe will make an assessment on the squad to identify how we increase performance and improve results and Philippe will give an assessment to the board where he sees the strengths and weaknesses,” Bisgrove said on the same day that Clement addressed his transfer policy for the first time. “I believe the board and investors will be receptive to his feedback in terms of the improvements required. Clearly, there has been investments this summer, but the standard and the bar here is very high. We want to win silverware. Philippe is here for that, that’s why he’s picked Rangers over possibly other options.”

That bar will need to be raised once again. Clement will be given the means to do that with his recruitment strategy but his ability to improve players through coaching and man-management will be just as important as his eye for a signing. The relationship with the incoming technical director and the terms that he works under, as set by the board, will determine how much say Clement has on every facet of the transfer window.

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The requirement for Rangers to improve their strike rate in terms of signings was made clear by Bennett in his chairman’s report. The model of buy low, win and sell high cannot remain a soundbite and a hope, it must become the fourth pillar of Rangers as a successful business and successful team.

“Player trading will always be inherently volatile, yet Rangers must replace sporadic ‘wins’ with systematic success,” Bennett said. “It is a given that it all begins with player recruitment. This is an area of priority for your Board, and we anticipate that the coming months will see a strengthening in the leadership and processes of our football department, specifically with this in mind.”

The debates and discussions will soon revolve around transfers once again. Clement will differ from Beale in many ways, but it is his record on the park and in the market where Rangers must see the biggest shift following another change in philosophy and personnel.