In starting Griffiths over Chris Martin, Jordan Rhodes or Steven Fletcher, he had given the public what they had been asking for, even if a first international goal again eluded the Celtic striker
ruled out for some overzealous jostling with his marker – before Strachan decided to take matters into his own hands, making the long walk down the stairs and along to the edge of the perimeter area to pass on instructions to his players.
This he did at regular intervals throughout the remainder of the match, one touchline conversation with Russell Martin going on for quite some time and involving Strachan making hand gestures as if he were involved in a prolonged game of charades.
Griffiths’ injury forced him into his first selection switch – Strachan eschewing the more obvious centre forward choices to ask Steven Naismith to lead the line for his country for the first time in quite some time. More tactical tinkering followed. Ikechi Anya, who had played at right-back in last week’s friendly against Canada, came on to play in an advanced left-midfield role in place of the tiring Robert Snodgrass, before Chris Martin was summoned for the last hurrah.
The boos that brought were, presumably, for the decision to remove James Morrison rather than for Martin, and the striker would go on to make a telling contribution, sliding a shot past Oblak to deliver the precious victory. Strachan punched the air then stood applauding, his face barely registering a a smile. Inside, though, he will have known how important that goal had been, both for Scotland and for himself.