St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson has bracketed Steven Davis alongside George Best in the pantheon of Northern Ireland greats following the midfielder’s retirement on Thursday.

Davis is most closely associated with Rangers where in two spells at the Ibrox club he won four titles, as well as lifting both the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup on three occasions.

The 39-year-old played 140 times for Northern Ireland – the UK male international caps record –  while former Manchester United and Northern Ireland winger Best is generally accepted to be one of the best players ever to have played the game.

Robinson, capped seven times for Northern Ireland where he played alongside Davis and who was assistant to Michael O’Neill at Euro 2016, said of his former team-mate: “He’s, if not the best, then he’s right up there.

“He should be mentioned in the same bracket as George Best. In terms of his longevity and what he has contributed to Northern Irish football.

“Obviously two completely different players, two completely different positions but in terms of recognition I think he will be recognised in that bracket as one of the greatest players ever to play for Northern Ireland.

“He is such a talented boy and what he has done for Northern Irish football.

“He went to the Euros, he was a great captain for Michael O’Neill throughout his time and provided so much for the young players coming through and he has been an inspiration and for someone I have worked with – he is arguably the best player I worked with on the training pitch.

“Never caused a minute’s problem, easy maintenance, easy to manage but a super, super talented boy.”

Philippe Clement is taking nothing from the best and worst of Aberdeen as he readies his Rangers side for the trip to Pittodrie on Sunday.

The Dons, who will face off against the Ibrox men in the Viaplay Cup final at Hampden Park next month, were thrashed 6-0 at Celtic Park in the cinch Premiership immediately before the international break.

However, a comprehensive 3-1 league win against Rangers at Ibrox in September signalled the end for former Gers boss Michael Beale, with Steven Davis taking over on an interim basis before Clement arrived from Belgium.

The 49-year-old former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco boss denied there would be extra motivation for the Ibrox side following their most recent meeting with the Granite City side.

He said:  “I don’t think it works that way. I’ve never worked that way. The past is the past and every game has its own story.

“There are other players available now on both sides. It’s an away game.

“We need to focus on ourselves. If we’d won that game 6-0 it would not have been different preparation this time.”

As for the Dons’ dismal performance at Parkhead, Clement said: “It wasn’t their best day so I think it’s not an advantage for us because you know that after a game like that, you always have a team and players who want to react to show they’re better.

“And they are better because they’ve shown these last couple of few months.”

Clement is glad to see winger Rabbi Matondo available again after being out since September with a knee injury.

The Belgian said: “He can also play central and his best period in Belgium (on loan at Cercle Brugge from Schalke 04) was as a second striker where he had a lot of freedom.

“He’s an electric player, he can eliminate fast one versus one with his dribbles, with his actions and his speed.

“So it’s someone really interesting to break open walls but of course, he comes out of an injury, he was a long time out, so we can’t expect him to get his highest level from the first minute he plays so it’ll be building with him and he can give something to the team.”

James Tavernier wants to get Rangers fans back onside under the tenure of Philippe Clement.

The Gers players were booed off following the 3-1 cinch Premiership defeat by Aberdeen at Ibrox last month which brought an end to Michael Beale’s time in the hot seat.

It was far from the first time this season that the Light Blues fans turned on their side who have slipped seven points behind league leaders and current champions Celtic and who were knocked out of the Champions League by PSV Eindhoven in the play-off.

Former Gers midfielder Steven Davis stepped in to oversee a shock 2-1 Europa League defeat by Aris Limassol in Cyprus which did little to improve the mood of the Gers supporters and a 3-0 league win over St Mirren in Paisley before Clement was appointed on Sunday.

The ex-Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco boss’ debut in the Ibrox technical area comes against Hibernian at Ibrox on Saturday and skipper Tavernier is looking for a new era to begin.

The 31-year-old full-back, who signed for Rangers in 2015, said: “I had a good chat with the gaffer and it is a two-way street between us and the fans.

“I have been here over the years and we have experienced great experiences in the stadium when the fans have been behind us and when the performances have been what the fans deserve.

“We always want the fans to back us no matter what the situation that we are in.

“And obviously we have to give them the performances that they are looking for. It is always a two-way street. I believe both of us together can be very strong.”

Tavernier has seen changes in Clement’s approach this week but expects time to be key.

He said: “It is still the early stages and he is trying to put his identity in the team.

“We will be working on that every day and you will see it when we play. It is refreshing and it is good to see a different aspect of how to play football again.

“We are all really tuned into what he wants and we have got to implement it as quickly as possible.

“There is nothing drastic. It will take time, working day by day, week by week and that is the message from the gaffer.

“He puts his small imprints and then in  the grand scheme of things later down the line we should be having a lot more different variations in the team.”

Steven Davis believes Rangers’ 3-0 win at St Mirren was a “step in the right direction” for the managerless Ibrox club.

The former Gers midfielder, whose contract had expired in the summer but was continuing his rehab from a knee injury at the club, took up the reins on an interim basis last weekend after Michael Beale departed following the 3-1 home defeat by Aberdeen.

Davis’ first game in charge was an embarrassing 2-1 Europa League defeat against Aris Limassol in Cyprus on Thursday night.

Some Rangers fans unravelled banners early in the game in Paisley which read ‘heartless passionless leaderless; not fit to wear our colours’ before skipper James Tavernier scored from the spot in the 29th minute after Saints’ Ryan Strain was shown a red card by referee Nick Walsh for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity.

Attacker Abdallah Sima stroked in a second in the 70th minute and Tavernier hammered in a third in the 90th minute as Rangers leapfrogged Stephen Robinson’s side into second place, seven points behind leaders Celtic going into the international break where a new manager is likely to be appointed.

“Robbo has them really well organised so we are delighted to come here, keep a clean sheet and score three goals,” said Davis, who revealed 17-year-old debutant Zak Lovelace had to come off in the first half with a hamstring complaint.

“It is a step in the right direction, going into the international break.

“It was important to come here as a group, and the fans as well, and win.

“There is still a long way to go but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

“We have to take the positives out of today. But we will not get ahead of ourselves. It is only a small step to where we want to go but it is a positive step and I’m sure the players will take some belief from it.”

On the fan banner, Davis said: “People are entitled to their opinion. Players share the same frustration as the fans.

“Obviously we get the opportunity as staff and players to change things on the pitch.

“This is not where I wanted to be as I wanted two positive results from the two games.

“But I just thanked them for their effort and their desire. It is not easy with a quick turnaround after Thursday night.

“I couldn’t have asked any more from them in terms of what they have given me.”

On his own future, the Northern Irishman said: “I really don’t know. My remit was to come and take these two games, first and foremost.

“Now it gives the club and the board an opportunity to get someone in place.

“Up to this point I’ve continued my rehab and need to make a decision in terms of that on whether I play on or not.

“I have always thought that down the line I would go into management.

“This opportunity came out of the blue and it has been a steep learning curve.

“I think I have learned a lot over the two games. I have had a lot of support in terms of the staff behind me and in the building.

“That has been massive for me and for the players as well.”

St Mirren boss Robinson had no complaints about Strain’s red card for handling the ball near the line which proved so pivotal in what was his first league defeat of the season.

He said: “I thought we were excellent to start with. The red card changes the whole game.

“People have to make decisions in the game. It’s just a reaction from him. It’s a poor decision – we know that – and the referee gets it 100 per cent correct.

“I was miles away and thought at first it had hit a Rangers hand but obviously it didn’t. But it’s definitely a sending-off.

“If you go 1-0 down with 11 men we’re still right in the game. We’re playing really well. But the red card changes it completely.”

Interim boss Steven Davis insists he retains confidence in the Rangers squad as he called for unity following the 2-1 Europa League defeat by Aris Limassol in Cyprus.

The former Light Blues midfielder was asked to take over after Michael Beale was dismissed at the weekend following the 3-1 loss Aberdeen at Ibrox which left the Gers seven points behind cinch Premiership leaders Celtic.

Rangers had beaten Real Betis in their Group C opener at Ibrox but found the Cypriot side too much, losing the first goal after nine minutes to defender Alex Moucketou-Moussounda.

Striker Shavy Babicka added a second goal in the 59th minute before Light Blues attacker Abdallah Sima pulled a goal back for the Ibrox men but the visitors could not complete the comeback.

Ahead of the trip to St Mirren on Sunday, Davis said: “I still believe we have some real quality players. Obviously, confidence has been hit.

“You go through these periods in your career and it’s a really difficult moment.

“As I say by sticking together you make sure to do the basics right in terms of hard work and application which they have been doing.

“It’s important we continue that and things will turn because I believe in the qualities of the squad.

“We’ll get players back which will help. The most important thing is right now is us being a group together.

“It was a really difficult night because we felt a real opportunity to come here and build on the Betis game.

“I think we caused a lot of our own problems in the game. Obviously, with the two goals we give away we’re really disappointed with and when that happens you have a mountain to climb.

“Firstly I’ve got to take some responsibility. In the first half we kept trying to play in the middle of the pitch when it wasn’t really on, they were good at getting transitions from that with the pace they had up front which caused us problems all night.

“Whenever you go behind in a second half you must throw some caution to the wind at certain points.

“We tried to simplify the game really, trying to get the ball in behind, get it wide and cross the ball into the box and ultimately we didn’t do enough to take something from the game.

“In terms of the effort of the players, I thought they tried to keep going till the end and in terms of the energy they put in, I couldn’t ask for any more in that respect.

“There wasn’t a lack of effort, we’d never question that from the dressing room but it is a really difficult moment that everyone is in.

“When that happens you maybe start to make the wrong decision and things like that.

“Sunday’s coming up and it’s a really quick turnaround. We’re hurting from tonight but it’s important as a group we stick together.”

Steven Davis is determined to  make the most of his chance in the Rangers hotseat as he admitted it came sooner than expected.

The 38-year-old Northern Ireland international, who had two successful spells as a player at Ibrox, was asked by the Gers board on Sunday evening to take the reins until they appoint a new permanent boss following the departure of Michael Beale.

The former Gers midfielder, who had been returning to fitness at the Ibrox club after a serious knee injury despite his contract expiring in the summer, will be assisted by fellow former Rangers players Alex Rae and Steven Smith, as well as coach Brian Gilmour and goalkeeping coach Colin Stewart.

Speaking in Cyprus ahead of the Europa League clash with Aris Limassol in Cyprus on Thursday night, Davis spoke about a “whirlwind” few days while addressing his future.

“Obviously it came out of the blue,” said Davis, who revealed Nicolas Raskin and Kemar Roofe have returned from injury.

“Sunday evening, I was just at home. It wasn’t a call that I was expecting.

“Things moved very fast and I came in on Monday morning and I started to work.

“It was James Bisgrove (chief executive) and Craig Robertson (board member) that I received the phonecall from.

“Obviously it was a bit of a whirlwind after that. I went off the phone and I had a few conversations but my decision was made very quickly.

“I was honoured by the fact the board had that conversation and my name came up and they put their trust in me to try and do this job.

“I’m going to give it my all to try and be successful.

“Listen, there’s not been any conversation in terms of a time frame. I all happened very quickly.

“I was asked to come in and take the game tonight. How things play out after that I’m not too sure.

“Regarding my feelings around it, I’ve obviously got ambitions. I did not quite expect it to happen quite as soon.

“I’m just determined really to make the most of the opportunity I’ve been given and we will see what develops from there.

“I’ve got the experience of Alex Rae in beside me and Colin Stewart and Steven Smith and Brian.

“I’ve had a lot of messages from managers I’ve worked under. Unfortunately I’ve not had a chance to respond because it’s been quite intense preparing for this game.

“I appreciate the support I’ve been given but I haven’t had the chance to reach out to anyone or felt the need to just yet.”

Beale departed the club following the 3-1 defeat to Aberdeen at Ibrox which left the Light Blues seven points behind cinch Premiership leaders Celtic, albeit they beat Real Betis 1-0 in their first Europa League fixture.

Davis insists it is time for everyone at the club to “step up”.

He said: “‘Listen, there’s a lot of character within the dressing room. There’s a lot of leaders in there as well.

“Everyone knows it’s time to step up. The great thing about football is you get another opportunity to turn things around.

“It’s not a position we want to be in. Everybody is hurting from it.

“The main focus is first and foremost getting a result on Thursday and building on it from there.

“We won our opening group game. We are in a strong position and we want to build on that

“I think for us we just want to give the boys the freedom to go out and play to their strengths really.”

Rangers have announced the almost inevitable departure of Michael Beale and have put club favourite Steven Davis in charge.

Calls for Beale’s departure increased following the 3-1 defeat by Aberdeen at Ibrox on Saturday, with the players again booed off the park.

A third loss in seven cinch Premiership fixtures left the Light Blues seven points behind leaders Celtic and with their title hopes already in jeopardy.

Ahead of the Europa League tie against Aris Limassol in Cyprus on Thursday night, the Ibrox club released a statement which outlined the changes.

It read: “Rangers can confirm it has parted company with men’s first-team manager Michael Beale.

“The Rangers board would like to put on record their thanks to Michael and his staff for their efforts since joining the club last November.

“Results this season have fallen short of what everyone connected to Rangers would expect.

“Therefore, the decision was reached today to terminate the contract of the manager, as well as the contracts of coaches Neil Banfield, Damian Matthew, Harry Watling and Jack Ade.

“The club is pleased to announce that Steven Davis will lead the interim management team.

“The team will consist of former Rangers player and hugely experienced coach Alex Rae, former player and current coach Steven Smith, coach Brian Gilmour and goalkeeping coach Colin Stewart.”

Rangers chairman John Bennett said: “I’d like to thank Michael for his dedicated work since he rejoined the club as manager last November.

“It is clear that results have fallen well short of the board’s, Michael’s and our supporters’ expectations.

“The search process for the new manager is already under way. I wish Steven Davis and the interim management team every success – they will remain in charge for as long as it takes to make the right appointment.”

Former midfielder Davis’ contract expired at the end of last season but the club had been letting him use the facilities for his rehabilitation following a serious knee injury.

It is understood the new management team have all the required UEFA badges to lead Rangers into their European match on Thursday.

Beale never recovered from the 1-0 defeat by an under-strength Hoops side at Ibrox last month, with four subsequent wins in three different competitions doing little to appease disgruntled supporters.

Beale revamped his squad in the summer but new signings such as Cyriel Dessers, Sam Lammers, Dujon Sterling and Jose Cifuentes have failed to impress.

In mitigation, injuries robbed him of Danilo, Todd Cantwell, Kieran Dowell, Nico Raskin, Tom Lawrence, Rabbi Matondo and Kemar Roofe for various lengths of time with Ryan Jack and Ridvan Yilmaz picking up injuries against the Dons.

Beale, who was first-team coach at Rangers under Steven Gerrard, took over in the Ibrox hotseat in November 2022, following the departure of Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

Rangers ended Old Firm rivals Celtic's Scottish Cup dominance and took a big stride towards completing the double with a 2-0 victory at Ibrox.

Steven Davis opened the scoring with an acrobatic strike and a first-half Jonjoe Kenny own goal put the Premiership champions well on course for the last eight.

There was no way back for the Hoops, who had lifted the trophy in the previous four seasons, and Allan McGregor saved Odsonne Edouard's penalty as they suffered a first defeat under caretaker boss John Kennedy.

Victory for Rangers ensured they have won three and drawn one of their four clashes against their fierce city rivals in what has been an outstanding season.

Davis gave Rangers the lead in style in the 10th minute, volleying in from close range when Joe Aribo's deflected shot looped up invitingly for the midfielder following a sharp turn and incisive run from Ryan Kent.

Edouard shot straight at Allan McGregor after creating space for himself in the Rangers penalty area, then Callum McGregor's drive deflected over the crossbar and Stephen Welsh somehow failed to finish as Celtic pressed for an equaliser.

Steven Gerrard's side doubled their lead 12 minutes before half-time, though, with Aribo conjuring up some trickery to beat Diego Laxalt before crossing from the right and Kenny turned into his own net attempting to prevent Kent from slotting home.

Celtic should have reduced the deficit when Mohamed Elyounoussi was superbly denied by Allan McGregor and Edouard volleyed wastefully over following up.

The Gers keeper did brilliantly to race off his line and thwart Elyounoussi soon after, the Celtic forward letting himself down with a poor first touch after Edouard set him up.

Allan McGregor then dived to his right to keep out Edouard's spot-kick 11 minutes from time after Aribo was adjudged to have fouled Leigh Griffiths, which summed up Celtic's afternoon.


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