In a historic week for Rangers boss Steven Gerrard, it is perhaps poignant that the former England captain is recognised by way of a nomination for a top Scottish footballing award.
But if there is any sense in Scottish football – hold the laughter at the back – then he shouldn’t just be celebrating a nomination come the end of the season.
The gaffer has endured his fair share of ups and downs at the Gers over the course of his tenure and there was a chance to reflect on this as it reached the three-year anniversary of his appointment at Ibrox this week.
It has been 36 months since Gerrard was first announced as the next Rangers manager and in that space of time the Liverpool legend has transformed both himself and this football club’s fortunes.
As the club approaches the day that they’ll lift their 55th title, Gerrard is in the running for the Football Writers’ Manager of the Year award.
Rangers manager Gerrard joins Scotland boss Steve Clarke, Livi’s David Martindale and potential double-winning cup manager of St Johnstone Callum Davidson as the other names in the running.
This is quite the feat when you consider little over a year ago it looked like Gerrard was genuinely considering walking from the Rangers job as his side crashed out of the Scottish Cup to Hearts.
Things are different now – way different – and it is telling that in the season which mattered more than any other, Gerrard has found a way.
On and off the pitch Rangers are a fledging footballing force to be reckoned with, Gerrard’s well-drilled, athletic, industrious, technically capable side almost the image of the man who leads them.
Rangers play with a panache and vibrance at times scarcely seen at Ibrox over the years and there is a burgeoning potential in this squad which you feel is still to be fully recognised.
More than that this is a team who work for each other, play for each other, and like Gerrard, have matured magnificently over the course of this season.
Throughout Gerrard’s first two seasons there were moments of raw emotion, good or bad, which appeared to force him into regressing from management and back into the psyche of a player.
From the referee complaints at Pittodrie, to taking to the pitch at Celtic Park, to the emotion cutting through him after the Tynecastle defeat, Gerrard got too high, and too low, too early and too often.
But this year the change is startling; Gerrard holds himself differently, he is more balanced in his reactions, more ruthless in his interpretations, more precise in his vision.
💙"I can't believe it is three years already! This club has really blown me away in terms of size & stature."
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) May 4, 2021
It’s been an evolution of a squad, a manager and a football club over the last 12 months which has positioned Rangers as the champion and premier force in the country.
The Ibrox gaffer’s achievements in Europe – which have all but led to an automatic Champions League spot next season – remain understated as he increases the profile of both Rangers and football in Scotland.
On and off the pitch, Steven Gerrard is leading a modern footballing institution the likes of which has never been seen in this country, all whilst everyone told us it wasn’t possible.
All whilst Rangers were clamouring back on their knees with 10IAR an inevitability and 55 a pipe dream.
His own personal development has been clear to see this season and for me, there is little argument that there is only one winner of any Manager of the Year Award in Scotland.
But what this week has taught Rangers fans – and whether Gerrard wins it or not – is that whilst this season has been the culmination, it’s been an achievement three years in the making.
Meanwhile, Rangers fans have been branded “phenomenal” for their response to season ticket renewals already this season.