ANGE POSTECOGLOU was handed the keys to a clapped-out out three-wheel banger while Giovanni van Bronckhorst took over a top-of-the-range supercar.
The transformation of Celtic under the guidance of the Greek-Australian has been nothing short of stupendous and the club are now within touching distance of a phenomenal domestic clean sweep.
The Premier Sports League Cup has already been won, the team are three points clear at the Premiership pinnacle with seven games to play plus there is a Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden due on April 17.
The somersault in fortunes in the east end of Glasgow has been nothing short of breathtaking.
MAN ON A MISSION…Ange Postecoglou is showing Manager of the Year credentials.
That is why Chris Sutton has absolutely no doubt about who should get the top boss’ prize at the end of a dramatic campaign.
“Ange Postecoglou is the Manager of the Year,” declares the former Hoops striker.
“That’s regardless of what happens between now and the end of the season.
“As far as I’m concerned, there’s no point in even starting the voting. Postecoglou’s work at Celtic makes him the outstanding candidate and you’d be as well just handing him the award right now.
“No doubt this statement is going to get folk hot under the collar, but, if you are being honest and unbiased, who else can anyone really vote for?
“Celtic were an absolute shambles at the beginning of the season. The club had lost the title by a massive 25 points last season to Rangers. It was a one-sided Rangers rout. My old club was a mess. The entire squad needed upheaval. He needed a brand new team.
THREE MEN AND A TROPHY…two-goal hero Kyogo Furuhashi, manager Ange Postecoglou and captain Callum McGregor after the Premier Sports League Cup triumph six days before Christmas.
“Postecoglou was walking into an alien environment and he had to turn around the squad and the mood.
“Not only has he done it, he might just be about to win the title along with it.
“Even if he doesn’t, it has been some turnaround. Let’s face it, no-one, including me, gave him a hope of overcoming Rangers in his first season.”
One-time England international frontman Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Postecoglou has brought a brand of football which is exciting, he has signed a raft of players such as Kyogo Furuhashi, Jota and Liel Abada who have lit up the season in Scotland and he has rejuvenated an institution which was in serious trouble.
“Are there other contenders? Yes, you would say there is.
“Rangers might win the Premiership, but Steven Gerrard had them 25 points ahead in the last campaign.
“Winning the Europa League would be an incredible effort. That would be a game-changer, but, as well as they have done to reach the last eight, I can’t see it.
WING WONDER…Filipe Jota has been a revelation at Celtic since arriving on loan from Benfica.
“Don’t get me wrong. I like Gio Van Bronckhorst. He was a good mate of Henrik Larsson’s when we were all in Glasgow together playing and he’s a good guy.
“However, having been so far ahead last term, this season should have been an open goal for Rangers.
“Postecoglou took over Del Trotter’s three-wheeler while van Bronckhorst was grabbing hold of a Lamborghini.
“If Robbie Neilson manages to add a Scottish Cup success to finishing third in the Premiership with Hearts on their return to the top-flight, then that would be a superb effort.
“But as we all know, the voting is concluded before the Scottish Cup Final is played, so that’s going to make him a non-starter.
“I don’t agree with that, incidentally. They should wait until the season is over before making these decisions, but I don’t make the rules.
ACROBATIC ANTICS…Liel Abada goes through his entertaining repertoire in the 4-0 win over Motherwell at Fir Park last month.
“Let’s face it, if the voting had run until after all the games in all the competitions were finished last season, Callum Davidson would have won it for a famous Cup double with a provincial team such as St Johnstone and not Gerrard.
“If there’s one guy who can rip the crown away from Postecoglou, it would be Dick Campbell. What he has done at Arbroath this season is absolutely superb.
“To have a part-time team maintain their status in the Championship is a big enough deal. To have them fighting for the title with just a handful of games remaining and having the dream of reaching the top flight still alive at this stage is an incredible effort.
“If Dick were to win it, I’d change my tune. But, hand on heart, I just think Kilmarnock will have too much under Derek McInnes.”
Sutton applauded the efforts of other team bosses and remarked: “Paul Hartley is doing a fine job with Cove Rangers and looks set to take them up the ladder again and into the second tier.
“Kevin Thomson likewise at Kelty Hearts as they appear destined to win League Two.
“But, when you are talking about Managers of the Year, you are talking about the elite and the ones who do the best jobs at the biggest clubs under the sternest of pressures.
“Winning major trophies is what it is all about in the game and Postecoglou has already got one in the bag having landed the Premier Sports Cup.
“To get that in the cabinet within six months of such a monumental rebuild was a cracking return.”
OVERNIGHT SENSATION…Reo Hatate has been an immediate hit at Celtic after his Hogmanay arrival.
Sutton added: “I know Glasgow, I know the pressures of having to deliver.
“To walk into that environment and take over when things are going well is one thing. To do it when there is chaos in the building and still deliver is some achievement.
“Postecoglou might well go on and win a treble.
“But, even if he doesn’t, I’d say he’s Manager of the Year material.”
The next challenge for the manager and his players is the short trip across Glasgow a week tomorrow to face Van Bronckhorst’s Ibrox outfit.
A win for the visitors would give them a six-point advantage with six games to play, one of them at Parkhead following the league split.
The focus switches to the Scottish Cup with a last-four showdown against the same opponents a fortnight later.
A win at the national stadium on May 21 would cap one of the most amazing seasons in Celtic’s illustrious history.
And there could be no arguments over who would be a worthy Manager of the Year.