The cacophonous clattering and splashing of oars as Gordon Strachan doubters rowed furiously backwards on Thursday night was deafening.
With just a minute left at Hampden, social media was aflame with furious cries of ‘Strachan must go’, as Scotland headed for the exit in yet another World Cup qualifying campaign.
Then, with 60 seconds left a Martin Skrtel own goal rocked the nation’s dismal Jimmy’s into grinding reverse gear, and our flickering vital signs were miraculously resuscitated.
Strachan lives to fight another day then: and it may only be a day, since anything less than a win in Slovenia, and our qualification hopes are holed below the waterline.
With five games unbeaten in Group F, Scotland have put together a timely run, but given our propensity to shoot ourselves in the foot, no one will be booking their flights to Russia just yet for the finals next year.
Especially given the fact that even a win on Sunday only qualifies us for a play-off, in which anything can happen, given our history of glorious failure.
The manager’s bright early start in the Scotland job turned sour for a lot of fans fairly quickly, but that’s the natural sequence of events for football supporters the world over, let alone those of us in a nation once blessed with a generation of players, who on their day could match the best in the world, but in truth seldom did.
We’ve long relinquished any claim to possess a Law, or a Baxter, or a Dalglish, or indeed a Strachan in our teams, but we’re making do and mending with what we’ve got and that’s given us at least a fighting chance.
Football managers everywhere are confronted by armchair, terracing, and journalistic experts, all of whom know better than them, the formation, and picks, and substitutes, which should take the field. Only they though, have to actually make the choices and live with the consequences.
We have some good young prospects emerging in the likes of Tierney and Robertson as full backs, but as a nation we are hardly awash with great talent to set the football world alight.
Strachan therefore has to use all his guile, experience, and patience to craft a side which can achieve results. Performances which electrify the crowd are a rare bonus.
He is charged with only one task, qualification for Russia.
Failure to achieve that I’m sure, will see him step down, probably at his own volition, since it would seem surly and ungrateful to sack a man who gave his all in the national jersey as a player and now as manager.
Strachan can be a nippy character and isn’t to everyone’s taste, but he isn’t there to win popularity contests, or to put out a side to play like Barcelona. His job is to take our fairly limited squad as far as he can, and for the moment against a lot of expectations, we are still in with a slim chance of qualification.
I suspect his tenure as Scotland boss is close to the end. If so, let’s pray he finishes with a flourish.