CELTIC, at present, are four points from the top of the league. It is not yet October, and tomorrow’s match against Dundee United at Celtic Park will be just their seventh of the Premiership season.

By any rational assessment, notions of Ange Postecoglou’s side already drinking in the last-chance saloon when it comes to their title hopes are surely premature. But then, this is Scottish football we’re talking about here.

Postecoglou may be relatively new to these shores, but he already knows enough to acknowledge that the margins of error for Celtic are already razor thin, after suffering three defeats in their opening six league games of the season.

Those have all been away from home, but by any reckoning, winning half and losing half of your matches is a ratio that will not come close to bringing the title back to Celtic Park, even with Rangers showing signs of vulnerability that were not present last term.

Fortunately for Postecoglou and Celtic, tomorrow’s match against Dundee United is on home soil, and the Celtic manager knows that anything other than three points won’t only increase the scrutiny that has slowly started to build around the early days of his stewardship, but also hugely damage their title hopes even at this fledgling stage of the campaign.

“We have little or no scope for dropping points,” Postecoglou said. “All we have to do is try to win games of football.

“I’m not going to look into a crystal ball and say how many points we’re going to need or how many games when we can drop when we’re still here in the very early part of the season.

“You know, people assume things along the way. And you use historical references for that. I’ve got a feeling this league will be tight this year. But, then again, I could be wrong, as well.

“For us, regardless of who we’re playing, Sunday becomes a particularly important game – particularly after losing last week.

“We know we can’t drop too many games in the league and we’ve got to get on a run of results. There’s no place better than here to start, because our home form has been really good, really strong all season.

“Dundee United will be a tough challenge, they played on Thursday night as well. It’s good that we’re facing teams who have the same shorter preparation time, as well.

“Hopefully we recover well and everyone is ready to go.”

Everyone who wasn’t already injured, that is. Postecoglou opined that he must have walked under a ladder when assessing his crock list during the week, with Callum McGregor, James Forrest, Mikey Johnston, Kyogo Furuhashi and Giorgos Giakoumakis all definitely out for the visit of United, and perhaps for a good while longer.

That leaves Celtic particularly light in attacking areas, with only Albian Ajeti – ineffectual against Raith Rovers on Thursday evening – to lead the line.

Regardless of the personnel available though, Postecoglou will keep faith in the process, and send whatever players he has available out to play the sort of attacking football he is determined to make synonymous with his team.

Given his own strict alignment to pursuing his football ideals, Postecoglou is intrigued by the decision of United to appoint the man who will stand in the opposition dugout tomorrow afternoon.

Many an eyebrow was raised as the Tannadice club decided to place their faith in Tam Courts following the departure of Micky Mellon at the end of last season, with the steadfast commitment to developing a successful team largely made up of young, homegrown players with a sprinkling of experience to bring them along.

The infamous old maxim that you win nothing with kids has already been disproved on larger stages, but Postecoglou admires the courage of United to plough a path that will inevitably throw up more than a few bumps along the way.

“I have a great deal of interest in that,” he said. “For me, when it comes to those kinds of things, I like clubs who think a little bit differently and head off in a different direction.”

As Postecoglou knows only too well, it isn’t always plain sailing when you try to implement wholesale changes to the culture of a football club. The parallels to his own mission at Celtic are obvious, particularly when it comes to the inconsistency of performance in the early days of ingraining that philosophy.

“The test always comes if it doesn’t go smooth,” he added. “And it never goes smooth at the start.

“That doesn’t alter the direction you’re going, if you really want to change things in a significant way, you’ve got to expect things to be rough at the start.

“And, if you plough through that and stick to your beliefs, and you’ve got the right person, you’ll bear the fruits.

“He’s just starting his managerial journey and good on him for trying to do things a little bit differently.”