Michael Stewart in Philippe Clement Rangers 'disrespect' criticism as boss 'not on safe ground'

Michael Stewart has criticised Philippe Clement after the Rangers boss accused Brendan Rodgers of "disrespect" over the weekend.

The Celtic boss claimed he planned to have "a bit of fun" next weekend in the derby clash at Parkhead which could essentially end the title race in the Hoops' favour should they win. Clement, following his side's 4-1 win over Kilmarnock, was none too happy with his counterpart's words but Stewart believes it was not intended by the Northern Irishman to mean anything other than excitement for the coming fixture.

The ex-Hearts and Hibs midfielder, speaking on Sportscene, also pointed out the hypocrisy of Clement after he failed to shake hands with Don Cowie after defeat to Ross County earlier in the season.

"Look, I think what you can see is a bit of pressure and people react in different ways," Stewart said. "I think Philippe Clement is correct in everything he has said in regards to when he walked into the building and were seven points behind but now it is only three. But I think it is better when somebody else is saying that rather than him trying to emphasise the point.

"And I don't think it is disrespectful when you listen to the way that Brendan Rodgers came out and said it. I like to give Philippe Clement a little bit of leeway but I don't think he is on safe ground when he is talking about respect. He didn't shake somebody's hand after a game only a few weeks ago. That was not respectful."

After host Jonathan Sutherland reminded the pundit that Clement did indeed shake hands eventually, Stewart added: "That's why I'm saying I like to give him leeway but he is still not on the safest of grounds to be passing comment about the comment there from Brendan Rodgers that I don't think was anything other than him talking about the game, and having a bit of fun and a bit of enjoyment in that fixture which they probably can now. Even though it is such a huge game."

Clement said of Rodgers: “I heard yesterday they are going to have fun. So we are going to have fun also. It’s not really respectful to my team. I will never say that about an opponent. Ok but we will see. I'm looking forward to it and as a manager I'd love for it to be tomorrow - although maybe that wouldn't be so good for my players! Six months ago we were seven points behind and now we are three points behind and we can come equal so the team has made a lot of steps and it's now about making the next step."