Jack Butland claims Rangers just keeping look ahead to the next challenge after their 2-1 win against Kilmarnock on Wednesday night kept them two points clear of Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership.

Killie had beaten Michael Beale’s Rangers 1-0 on the opening league game of the season, but found successor Philippe Clement’s Light Blues more robust – eventually.

Danny Armstrong scored with an 11th-minute penalty after his cross had struck the arm of John Lundstram arm before Butland made a great save from Matty Kennedy’s close-range strike early in the second half, which proved pivotal.

Two goals in four minutes – a trademark free-kick from Rangers captain James Tavernier and a Tom Lawrence strike –  made it 11 wins in a row for Rangers to keep them ahead of the Hoops, who demolished Dundee 7-1 at Parkhead.

Butland told Rangers TV that attention turns to Motherwell at Ibrox on Saturday.

He said: “We just keep going. Three points is all that matters at the minute.

“Yes, we’d love to have a clean sheet – penalties is frustrating – but we’re getting the wins and that’s what we need to do.

“Obviously it’s a lot better feeling than it was the last time we came here.

“So we’ll enjoy it, get back to training, recover and look forward to Motherwell at the weekend.

“There’s never any panic, we just remained calm, kept reiterating at half-time why we’re in the position we are in and how we’ve got there.

“And we just continued to do that in the second half, remained calm and in the end we got two brilliant finishes from Tav and Tom and I guess it’s three points that we were after.”

Butland enjoyed his reflex save from Kennedy, diving low to his right to claw the ball away, saying: “It was a huge moment. I think the lad thought he had scored so it’s nice to be able to have that moment. That can sometimes take the wind out of a team’s sails as well.

“It seemed to give us a lift. It could have gone a little bit sideways at that point if that goes in so it was nice to contribute with that and ultimately then set us up for a really big second half.”

It was another huge contribution from set-piece specialist Tavernier, who scored his 20th goal of the season.

“That’s what Tav does,” said Butland. “It’s not easy for someone to step up and take penalties like he does and score goals like he does and especially the free-kicks as well.

“It is something that he works on religiously every day.

“So when you’re a leader like he is, when you play the way he does and when you practice the way he does, those opportunities go in and he earns them and he’s come up with another vital goal for us.”

Some half-time truths helped to spark a dramatic Sunderland improvement as the Black Cats came from behind to beat Plymouth 3-1 and climb into the Sky Bet Championship’s top six.

Michael Beale’s side trailed at the break after Ryan Hardie’s opener for Plymouth, but Sunderland were transformed after the restart and extended their unbeaten Championship stretch to three games with three “special” goals.

Pierre Ekwah levelled for the home side seven minutes after half-time before Jack Clarke’s stunning 14th goal of the season just before the hour mark. Substitute Jobe Bellingham then wrapped up the points just two minutes after coming off the bench with a fine third.

“We only played in one half, to be honest,” said Beale, whose side have now won successive games at the Stadium of Light.

“We started the game well, but we really fell away and there were too many individual errors.

“We went really bold with our line-up and it certainly impacted our cohesion early in the game, I wasn’t pleased with our pressing.

“We had honest words at half-time, got out there early and I thought from the moment we kicked off, we were much much better.

“We scored three excellent goals and we’re mixing around the goalscorers now as well. It was three special goals.”

Beale endured a difficult start to life at Sunderland, but is excited by what his youthful side are capable of.

He said: “We’re a young team and so we always can get better. In that first half, there weren’t too many in a Sunderland shirt who did themselves justice and we spoke about that.

“We spoke about wanting to excite our fans at home, to run, play front-foot football and for people to express themselves.

“I could have made five subs, but I told the players that I thought it was the right team and they had to put it right.

“We didn’t want any regrets and I expected more. The second half was fantastic and we have to stay at that level.”

For Plymouth boss Ian Foster, it was a first Championship defeat since replacing Steven Schumacher as Argyle head coach.

He congratulated Sunderland on a “wonderful second-half performance”, but was critical of referee Anthony Backhouse.

Foster was frustrated at the fact his side were down to 10 men when Jack Clarke scored the home side’s second goal, with midfielder Adam Forshaw having received treatment for an injury.

He said: “My understanding is a player has to spend 30 seconds off the pitch, which he did, and they won’t allow him on.

“I got told then the fourth official must get a signal from the referee to allow him back on, which he does straight after they score, which is disappointing.

“In that moment, it’s become very costly for us. He’s got injured, he’s received treatment, I don’t understand why it’s a punishment.

“I’ll try and choose my words carefully here, if I was the referee I’d go home disappointed tonight having watched the game back. I thought it was a very one-sided decision-making process from him.”

Sunderland head coach Michael Beale is calling for his players to show more of a cutting edge after his side drew 1-1 at Championship strugglers Rotherham.

Jack Clarke’s deflected effort earned a point for the visitors and cancelled out Sam Clucas’ thunderbolt volley.

The result against the division’s bottom side saw Sunderland slip out of the play-off places.

Beale said: “We had to have a real, honest conversation at half-time because we did not really execute our gameplan. In the first half we were slow getting started.

“Other teams have come here and found it difficult. Not just ourselves.

“We started the second half in the worst possible way. But I was really pleased with our reaction.

“I want us to be less fussy and spiteful in the final third. There has to be an end product from our possession.

“We were due the luck with the deflection, over the last three games.

“There is a frustration going away. We have to recover and go again.”

Rotherham certainly enjoyed the better of a goalless first half and took the lead early in the second half.

Clucas dispatched an unstoppable 48th-minute effort after running on to Pierre Ekwah’s cleared header.

Sunderland equalised in the 72nd minute through dangerman Clarke, whose effort took a huge deflection on its way past Viktor Johansson after Rotherham could only partially clear Alex Pritchard’s cross.

The visitors piled on the pressure in search of the winner but the hosts could well have stolen the points themselves deep into stoppage time when Tom Eaves headed wide from Cafu’s cross.

The Millers have taken four points from post-Christmas matches at home to Middlesbrough and Sunderland, leaving head coach Leam Richardson satisfied.

“I think the level of effort and commitment was there,” he said.

“We probably played better than we did in the previous game (the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough).

“(Clucas’) goal was worthy of winning any game. His performance deserved the goal as well. He and Christ (Tiehi) were asked to do many jobs and they did them very well.

“Credit again goes to the players. I thought we were worthy of a positive result. Certainly in the first half we were in the ascendancy.

“We are still quite new to each other. We are not blessed with what we have available.

“I demand a minimum level of something. The players know that. We have certainly had that in the four games I’ve been here.

“I thought there was a game there to be possibly won.”

Michael Beale challenged his players to show greater levels of consistency after securing a first win as Sunderland manager with a 1-0 victory at Hull.

Beale’s men moved above the Tigers into the top six of the Sky Bet Championship following Jack Clarke’s 11th goal of the season after 82 minutes.

Sunderland lost 3-0 at home to Coventry in Beale’s first game in charge on Saturday, but responded by recording a first away win since September.

The former Rangers boss said: “I knew it would be a tough game and that we hadn’t won away from home for a long time, but I thought we should have won by more.

“We missed some big chances. Some of our interplay was good and it was just whether we could execute that in the final third.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the mentality of the side.

“That’s a big, big positive, but the big thing for me is that we need consistency. We must back it up against Rotherham.

“The inconsistency tells me we can’t get too high or too low – it’s important we keep going.”

The game was meandering towards a draw until Clarke provided the one moment of quality when he cut inside from the left before calmly steering the ball into the bottom-right corner.

Beale added: “We hadn’t much time to work with the players and it was demoralising on Saturday, what with the way the game went.

“Hull are really dangerous opponents and to come away with a clean sheet was fantastic.

“I think sometimes we are a little bit fussy in the final third – trying to score a perfect goal.

“It’s got to be more effective, but that was a special goal from Jack.

“It was a great three points, but we have to recover and now prepare for Rotherham.”

Hull have now lost back-to-back games, with head coach Liam Rosenior once again rueful of a lack of precision in front of goal.

He said: “It was a very evenly matched game between two teams pushing for the top six.

“I thought we had the better chances, but they also had some degree of control.

“We’re not taking control of the big moments of games – we didn’t take our chances when they came our way.

“I’m tired of coming out with the same story. We haven’t got the points our performances deserve.

“At 0-0 with 20 minutes to go we had to make sure we kept the back door shut.

“It’s a difficult one to take, but we now have to focus on a difficult game against Blackburn.

“We have to be more clinical at one end and more ruthless at the other. If we do that we’ve got the makings of a really good team.

“The players are a frustrated group as they know how good they can be.”

Leon Balogun is happy to have earned the trust of Philippe Clement after taking advantage of a reset under the Rangers boss.

The 35-year-old centre-back returned to Ibrox for a second spell from QPR in the summer but, under former manager Michael Beale, he featured only against Livingston and Morton and was even left out of the Europa League squad.

Clement took over from Beale in October and Balogun was handed a start in the 5-0 cinch Premiership win over Dundee on Tayside at the start of the following month.

The former Mainz, Brighton and Wigan player has played in the six domestic games since and is building a partnership with Connor Goldson as John Souttar and Ben Davies provide competition.

Balogun is pleased that he has been able to capitalise on the clean slate Clement offered the whole squad upon his Ibrox arrival.

He said: “I’m really grateful for that and it means a lot because I’ve had a tough spell being on the sidelines and it seems to be a bit of trust at least.

“I’ve been a professional now for 16 years almost so it (clean slate) doesn’t always go that way.

“You always think that way and I’ve seen it turn out completely different but I’m happy it went that way.

“But I think he’s been a breath of fresh air for everyone. Just in his ways.

“I’m sure you (the media) had one or more encounters with him so you get an idea of his persona and I think the boys take it on really well and you can see that in our performances overall.”

Rangers’ 1-0 cinch Premiership win over Hearts at Tynecastle on Wednesday night courtesy of Abdallah Sima’s 12th goal of the season kept the Light Blues eight points behind leaders Celtic having played a game fewer.

Clement has gone 11 games unbeaten since becoming Gers boss but, after disappointing draws against Aberdeen in the league and Aris Limassol in the Europa League respectively, the 2-0 win over St Mirren on Sunday keeps them on the heels of the Hoops.

“I think what you can see is there is a momentum we are creating right now,” said Balogun. “It would be foolish of us to now think, ‘okay things are just going to go our way’.

“But if I look into the dressing room I hear everybody, I hear the players on the pitch talking to each other, there’s no-one taking anything for granted.

“So we have to keep building. The way we came off the last two games (Aberdeen and Aris) where we had a set-back, slap on the neck and then came back into the games, shows you the character we’re building at the moment.”

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.”

Jack Butland says Rangers players have bought into the new attitude to fitness at Ibrox under Philippe Clement.

Immediately after taking over as Gers boss from Michael Beale, the Belgian emphasised his desire for a much fitter and more robust squad.

Clement is unbeaten in five games and, ahead of the Europa League clash with Sparta Prague at Ibrox on Thursday night, Butland spoke openly about the changes he has witnessed.

The 30-year-old goalkeeper said: “He’s bringing everybody in. Sometimes the old ideas of running stupid distances can be a punishment to people, or feel that way.

“He’s made it clear, if people are doing extra running, it’s not as a punishment, it’s to get you up to the standard of the lads who are getting those numbers in week in week out, so when the opportunity comes he will call on those people, because we will need to over the course of the season – they are not a yard off, they’re up to standard.

“When he articulated it in that way, it’s not as if you’re running because you’re not playing or fit enough, you’re doing extra work to get to the levels we need.

“The lads are on board because that works in everyone’s favour. Those guys, it means they are ready and for the rest of the team and club, every player is ready to go when called upon.”

Butland believes Clement’s new fitness methods are part of his aspiration to simplify football at Ibrox.

The former Stoke and Crystal Palace keeper said:  “He’s simplified things, he’s made his demands obvious and not clouded.

“There’s been occasions where he wants to improve certain things and aspects, whether it be fitness or whatever, there’s been things that he’s touched on and been sure to come back and give us reasons as to why and backed up his reasons as to why he’s making us do certain things or play a certain way.

“There’s no grey area, I think the lads know what’s expected and he’s included everybody.

“It’s sort of coming together and I guess we’ve seen that in a short space of time. But the way that the manager is and the way that we are with not stopping at anything, we’ve got things that we want to achieve, a lot of work to do and that’s a conscious effort every single day to keep getting better and improve.

“We’ve come a long way I think, still a way to go, but we’re getting towards the team we want to be.”

Philippe Clement declared he wants to build a “machine” at Rangers as he prepares for the Europa League clash with Sparta Prague at Ibrox on Thursday night.

The Belgian is unbeaten in five games since taking over as Gers boss from Michael Beale, with the only blip a goalless draw against the Czech side in Prague last month.

Rangers secured a Viaplay Cup final date with Aberdeen courtesy of a “positive” 3-1 victory over Hearts at Hampden Park on Sunday, and Clement is wanting more.

“It is just the start,” said the former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco boss, who revealed winger Scott right was a “serious doubt” with a muscle injury but striker Kemar Roofe will return to the squad despite being only able to contribute “five or 10 minutes”.

“For me a good team is a team that does it for months.

“And of course there will be one moment where it will be less (a dip) but the next game there is a reaction.

“Of course I am happy with the way things are going but I am not sitting on the sofa and thinking now we can let everything loose and the machine will go.

“I want to create a machine and I think it is possible with this group to create a machine that goes every time but we are not there yet.

“We are in the building period, not just observing. I don’t know everyone really well at the moment in every circumstances.

“I want to see how players react with the first disappointment or play a really good game and the next game they don’t start.

“I seen that in the semi-final. There were players who played a really good game a few games before (against Dundee) and then didn’t play in the semi-final. How is their reaction?

“So I need an observation period for a few weeks, a few months to get the details of everybody and get the best out of everybody.

“Do I need to slap them more or be nice more? It is different for every player.”

After three Group C fixtures, Spanish side Real Betis sit top on six points with Sparta Prague and Rangers on four and Cypriot side Aris Limassol on three.

Clement said: “European nights are always something special, they have always been.

“I love it and I hope it is a really positive atmosphere in the stadium.

“I always want to win and I want a team that always wants to win, if it is against Prague or Real Madrid, it doesn’t matter to me.

“I want a team who is ambitious and wants to win the game, I am not looking for a draw but it can be that at the end of the section that a draw is also important. But we are going for three points.”

Defenders Leon Balogun and Ridvan Yilmaz were not named in Rangers’ European squad and thus drop out.

Midfielder Nicolas Raskin (ankle) and defender John Souttar (muscle problem) remain out but Clement hopes they will return after the international break.

Rangers manager Philippe Clement played down the significance of an early trophy win for himself as he prepares for the Viaplay Cup semi-final against Hearts on Sunday.

The Belgian is unbeaten in four games since taking over as Gers boss from Michael Beale last month and in general the early signs have been encouraging for Light Blues fans, who watched their side thrash Dundee 5-0 away in the cinch Premiership on Wednesday night.

A victory over the Jambos at Hampden Park would set up a Viaplay Cup final meeting in December against either Aberdeen or Hibernian, with the chance of winning the first available silverware of the season.

However, the former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco manager insists he is not preoccupied with personal glory.

Clement said: “No, honestly I am totally not busy with that.

“I do this job because I love to do things with people together.  I love to make players better, to guide them and to put my passion as a player into other people, because my body can’t do that on the pitch anymore.

“I’m not busy with my career and where I want to go. I have won trophies in my career, but the satisfaction is having this with the players and staff.

“I love the joy football can give people, like in Dundee after the final whistle you see all these people so happy.

“That is why I love to be a manager, with my players, staff and supporters. It’s about that, not my personal thing.”

Clement stressed the importance of football courage throughout his squad as he looked for further improvement on the back of a convincing win on Tayside.

He said: “I want my players to be ambitious, the medals will come if you do the correct things.

“We need to be brave and not be afraid to make mistakes – it is important how you react afterwards and that is what I want to give to my players.

“As a coach, you need to invest in your players and see the qualities they have and build on this.

“You need to see potential and give them the tools to develop themselves.

“I want my players to be ambitious to become better. It’s not like it was a perfect performance (in Dundee).

“We can do things better than this performance. But you see they’re starting to understand the story we want to do so it becomes more fluid.

“Also, more players stepping in and getting experience in how to move together, what to do with and without the ball. We need to strengthen the team and let them grow like this.”

Philippe Clement railed against the notion that his side could be extra motivated by the prospect of winning a trophy ahead of their Viaplay Cup semi-final against Hearts.

The Light Blues have not won the competition since March 2011 and if they get past the Jambos at Hampden Park on Sunday they will face either Aberdeen or Hibernian in the December final, where the first piece of silverware of the season will be up for grabs.

Clement, unbeaten in three games since taking over as boss from Michael Beale last month, had no time for the idea that his players will have additional hunger when they come up against a side that, coincidentally, they beat 2-1 in the cinch Premiership at Ibrox last weekend.

“I hate this ‘extra motivation’,” said the Belgian. “I want that they are motivated for everything. So, if I think, ‘oh, now they are motivated for the semi-final because we can win a cup’, it’s totally the wrong message.

“They need to be motivated every day, every game to show the best of themselves.

“A football career is so short for them, it goes so fast that they need to be motivated to take the best out if every day, they have the best life in the world and that’s what I want to see from my players. And then the other things follow.”

Clement revealed that defender Ben Davies remains a doubt with a “small problem” after missing the 5-0 win at Dundee in midweek and “there is a chance but no guarantee” that attacker Tom Lawrence will return, while John Souttar, Nico Raskin, Rabbi Matondo and Kemar Roofe remain out.

He also repeated his message to the Rangers fans to leave the “dangerous” pyrotechnics at home in future.

The match at Dundee on Wednesday night was delayed by 45 minutes after the Rangers team bus was held up in traffic and then suspended for 18 minutes after Gers supporters let off a large number of flares that triggered fire alarms under the stand.

The Scottish Professional Football League will liaise with police over the “very concerning” pyrotechnic display and the former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco boss reiterated his thoughts on the matter.

He said: “I was clear what I said after the game but I will repeat it a last time.

“I loved when we came outside for the warm-up in Dundee, you see a lot of Rangers supporters, a lot of atmosphere, songs, chants, support for the team.

“It gives the team energy. The pyro thing we don’t need. It doesn’t give something extra. It is dangerous. So if they give all the other things I will be a very satisfied manager.

“It is good that there is rules because it is such a dangerous thing. I have seen it a lot in the past but it is good that there are strict rules because we need to avoid danger for people.”

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.”

Former Rangers manager Alex McLeish believes anybody taking the reins at Ibrox faces a tough job to meet fans’ demands and must be aware of the issues around recruitment.

Michael Beale was sacked after losing three of the opening seven cinch Premiership games after many of his nine summer signings struggled to hit the ground running.

Former Rangers player Kevin Muscat and Belgian Philippe Clement appear to be the front-runners as the club close in on a new appointment.

Back in Glasgow to promote Viaplay’s coverage of Scotland’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Spain, McLeish said: “It’s a tough job, to get Rangers up to a level that the fans expect.

“We know that you can get managers coming in and resurrecting the situation, but it’s a tough job for anybody. And if the recruitment is not right it makes it even more difficult. I even suffered it during my days at Rangers as well.

“The players that are currently there were trusted. The algorithms, the analysts have said they are the right guys for it. Now somebody has to get the best out of it.

“If Philippe or Kevin are good at that kind of management then that’s something they must be aware of, anybody taking this job at Rangers.”

McLeish managed Muscat at Ibrox and has watched him develop as a coach over the years.

The 50-year-old worked under Ange Postecoglou before succeeding him at Melbourne Victory and, after a spell at Sint-Truidense in Belgium, also replaced the same man at Yokahama F Marinos when his former mentor went to Celtic.

McLeish said: “I have kept in touch with Muscy over the years. He is a good lad. When he was in Belgium, some journalists kept in touch with me and said he was doing well.

“I wanted to see his progress and, with Postecoglou doing so well coming to these shores, then Australian coaches are going to be looked at very closely, and especially with Kevin’s association with Rangers.”

Like McLeish, Clement is a former Genk manager. The 49-year-old won three Belgian titles in a row from 2019, first with Genk and then twice with Club Brugge, and was most recently manager of Monaco.

“I knew of Philippe,” the former Scotland manager said. “He will definitely have the right mentality having that success behind him. He is confident enough and young enough to come and take the lead.

“Again, has he got the right recruitment or can he improve the players, take the players who are there with his style of play or managerial skills? Or do Rangers have to look for more money for other players?

“I guess he will have an idea about bringing certain players as well if Philippe is the man that’s coming.”

McLeish feels the appointment of a sporting director is also crucial, with Rangers without one since Ross Wilson departed in April.

“A sporting director who knows the world of football, who knows if there are shrewd signings out there,” McLeish added.

“Back in the day we didn’t quite have the money, we got free transfers, (Jean-Alain) Boumsong from Auxerre, Dado Prso from Monaco. When you bring in gems like that, you have to be aware of all those players.

“Nowadays the computer-based analysts are doing the work for the manager.”

:: Alex McLeish was promoting Viaplay’s live and exclusive coverage of Spain v Scotland. Viaplay is available to stream from viaplay.com or via your TV provider on Sky, Virgin TV and Amazon Prime as an add-on subscription.

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.”

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has backed Michael Beale to learn from his Rangers experience and be a success in his next job.

Beale was sacked on Sunday after 307 days in the post with Rangers seven points adrift of Celtic in the cinch Premiership following their third league defeat of the season against Aberdeen 24 hours earlier.

Rodgers and Beale were both on the Chelsea coaching staff at the same time and the former Rangers boss was Liverpool Under-21s head coach when the Celtic manager was in charge at Anfield.

“I’m always saddened when any manager loses their job, no matter what club they work at,” said Rodgers when asked for his reaction ahead of Celtic’s Champions League clash with Lazio.

“When you manage Celtic or Rangers, they are big-pressure jobs. I am sure Michael will go away and reflect on his time here and no doubt he will he come back in again, he is an outstanding young coach and manager.

“He will go away and reflect on the pressure he was under and the expectation and the stress that this job can bring, and he will learn from it and go on and get another job and make a success of it, I am pretty sure.

“Whatever club, whoever it is, it’s not nice when someone loses their role and position.

“I hope for him the best for the future, of course.”

Kevin Muscat, Frank Lampard and Pascal Jansen are among the bookmakers’ favourites to succeed Beale.

Former Rangers player Muscat led Yokohama F Marinos to the J-League title last season, following in the footsteps of his coaching mentor Ange Postecoglou, who clinched the treble for Celtic last term with the help of two Hampden wins over Beale’s side.

Lampard is available following underwhelming spells in charge of both Everton and Chelsea last season while Jansen’s AZ Alkmaar side sit second in the Eredivisie after making the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League last season.

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