For Ange Postecoglou, this has been a wondrous season.
Today he capped it all off with his second manager of the year award, this time from the sportswriters.
In the end, in spite of their bitterness, even the hacks have had to accept that this man is the deserved winner and they have lined up one at a time to pay their homage and respect … at last.
I don’t imagine that this will get him the acclaim of some of them, although their colleagues have deemed him worthy. There are a few who will dig their heels in and they are never going to change their view. Some think that the award should have gone to the Ibrox boss, and they will make sure the world hears that view … forget them.
For the rest of them, this represents the Great Climb Down, the Great Reversal, and for many it should be a humbling moment, one which causes them to take stock.
Ange isn’t the only person at Celtic they wrote off; several of his signings, like Giakoumakis and Starfelt, were similarly dismissed as being a waste of the club’s time … a lot of folk should be going over their past copy and asking themselves if they have done this team justice.
Ange is entitled to be proud. He is also entitled, if he was that way inclined, to rub their faces in his success a little bit.
It is a pity in some ways that he’s not that kind of man.
Indeed, some of them should be grateful that he isn’t because in his shoes I might be tempted to make some of them sweat bullets the next time I faced them at a press conference, by asking them, as they ask so many managers, to explain their thinking, to explain how they came to their conclusions and to ask them straight out if they got it wrong and perhaps owe he and his players an apology.
That would be something to see.
And they deserve it, as he deserves the opportunity to do so.
Ange has proved himself a winner, but then he came to Scotland as a winner with trophies in club and international football, and a reputation for building just the sort of team he has put out at Celtic Park.
One of the things that made me reverse my initial position on Ange – before a ball was even kicked – was when someone I respect told me to re-evaluate the piece I’d written on Ange’s managerial history, which had left me underwhelmed.
What this guy asked me to do was to consider his achievements on their own merits rather than focussing on where they were achieved and at what level in the game. “This guy wins things,” I was told. “Wherever he goes, he wins things. Isn’t that telling?”
And it was. In a business where, actually, only a small percentage of managers ever gets his hands on silverware (that surprised me when I first heard it, it doesn’t anymore) he had done that and he hadn’t just done it once but again and again and again.
Not one of those hacks who dismissed his as a bad joke did what I did early on.
Not one of them took a proper look at his record in either of the two ways I had done – to see what was in there, first, and then secondly to actually think about what it showed – and that’s why they so easily, and readily, wrote him off when things didn’t immediately go right.
So what was their instant verdict based on?
Read the pieces I’ve written on Ewan Murray recently; he made up his mind so early that when Celtic were only two games into the campaign – Copenhagen and Hearts – he was already counting the days until Ange was sacked.
Keevins jumped quicker than that, with dire predictions about how we would finish third.
One idiot – he will be the subject of an excoriating article later – said that Ange should quit Celtic in July last year … weeks into the gig.
An entire industry devoted to covering Scottish football wrote our manager and our team off before a ball had even been kicked and the rush to judgement when we had our slow start was universal; do not let anyone kid you that they were some lone holdout.
There wasn’t a single one of them in the entire sports media in Scotland, not one, who thought that this was going to be anything other than a disaster.
So he is entitled to crow at them a little the next time he faces them, even those who cast their vote in his favour.
He is entitled to bring his own prepared list of questions; for Murray, for English, for McLaughlin, for Keevins if he’d ever have the balls to show up … and to ask them one at a time to explain themselves.
That he won’t is part of why I love this guy; he is simply too classy for that.
But by God, what a spectacle it would be if he turned his forensic mind to mercilessly questioning their judgement as they were doing with his. It would rattle them to their cores.
And what entertainment it would be for the rest of us.