IF a manager of Celtic – or Rangers, for that matter – is to win a manager of the year award, the inference would be that they have achieved something truly special.

The financial advantages both clubs enjoy over their domestic competition makes success on the field a likelier proposition, but holds them to a higher standard when judging their managers’ performance when it comes time to hand out the end of season gongs.

Context is key, with the scale of achievement by any manager judged against the backdrop of their starting point. It is why a compelling case can be made for both Malky Mackay at Ross County – whose pre-season relegation favourites sit handily in the top six – and Robbie Neilson at Hearts – third place certainties and Scottish Cup finalists.

For Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, the Rangers manager, the case would be built upon the way he has managed to lift a team that were on the brink of self-implosion when Steven Gerrard left, steadying the ship and steering them all the way to not only the Scottish Cup final, but the semi-final of the Europa League in impressive fashion.

He was even name-checked as a top contender for the manager of the year honour by rival Ange Postecoglou at the weekend for those achievements, with his own team defeated by Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi-final. But it is the Celtic manager who has arguably pulled off the most impressive of feats this term with the transformation in fortunes he has pulled off in the East End of Glasgow.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that when Postecoglou arrived, there were those who wouldn’t have given the unheralded new manager of Celtic two months in the job, let alone have him standing on the brink of bringing two trophies to the club by the end of the season.

That he managed to drag up the few remaining players left bereft by the previous term’s abject surrender of their 10 in-a-row dream by the bootstraps, as well as managing to assimilate so many new arrivals into that squad, then have them shipshape enough to win the League Cup in December was one thing.

That he managed to overcome a poor start of three losses from their first six league games, shake off the criticism that came with that from the doubters who were confident they were being proven right about the Australian, to now have his team sitting six points clear at the top of the league with just four games to play is quite another.

It has been an astounding turnaround not only for the threadbare Celtic squad that kicked off the season, but for Postecoglou himself, who now enjoys demi-God status among his club’s supporters. If the title follows, as it surely will, that adoration will only grow.

There have been blips, of course. The three European exits were hard for Postecoglou to swallow, even if his hands were tied in the Champions League qualifiers, and the Europa League group stage against quality opposition in Bayer Leverkusen and Real Betis seemed to come a little too early for his fledgling outfit. The Conference League exit to Bodo/Glimt was disappointing, as was the crushing Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Rangers.

Critics may also point out that he has spent the best part of £20m in rebuilding the Celtic squad in his image. He has managed to do just that in a remarkably quick timeframe though, forging a team that plays expansive and attractive football for the most part, while possessing a mental steeliness to prevail on the days when they don’t quite hit those swashbuckling heights.

He has taken the Celtic players and supporters on a journey, asking them to believe in him at the outset, and assuring them they would be rewarded at the end. They are about to be in spectacular fashion, and that is why the likes of Celtic legend Packie Bonner agree that he should indeed be manager of the year.

“Oh I think so,” Bonner said. “From where he and the team started from. If they win it, from where that position was at the start to where they are now is night and day.

“And playing a really good brand of football as well when they get to top form with the group that he has assembled.

“So when you put all of those things together, you would have to say he’s done a marvellous job.

“I know there are other managers out there who have done really well. Just look at the job that Dick Campbell has done with Arbroath, for example.

“But this is a different level in the Premiership and, as I said, when you look at where they were to where they are now, you have to give him great credit.

“You want to win the league, first and foremost. That would be a remarkable achievement in itself with the League Cup in the bag.

“To win a double, in that respect after the season before and turnaround of players and whole new squad, it’d be a remarkable job if he does it.”

The cherry on the icing on the cake would be a win over Rangers at Celtic Park on Sunday, a victory that would be gleefully accepted by the home support as the ultimate chance to rub their rivals’ noses in their triumph.

A win wouldn’t technically hand Celtic the title, even though it would move them nine points clear with a vastly superior goal difference with just three games to play, but it would be a decent way to bookend the ascent from the ashes that Postecoglou has inspired. Even if Bonner feels that the race has already been run, and Celtic are simply on their lap of honour.

“To be honest, at this stage, every game is important,” he said.

“Look at Dingwall, that was so important. If they had lost up there or dropped points, the nerves may have kicked in a little bit. To go there and do the business, I felt that was the one.

“They can afford to get a draw against Rangers and even a defeat and they would still be in a great position to win the league.

“If they had dropped any points against Ross County, it may have made Sunday’s match a slightly different ball game.

“But they will be released mentally. They have another full week to prepare, whereas Rangers have their big game against Leipzig in midweek.

“They are at home in front of their own fans and their tempo against Ross County was good, certainly up until 75 minutes.

“The changes they made were much-more effective than they were at Hampden, so they are in a great position.

“You couldn’t really ask for anyone, but, of course, the fans would love them to beat Rangers.”