It is folklore now that Strachan came back to his car to hear the voice of Alex McLeish celebrating on the airwaves instead of O'Neill. On Saturday, Strachan must have felt like covering his eyes and ears to shut out his own nightmare at Motherwell.
Terry Butcher's team found the net four times and would have inflicted yet another defeat on Celtic had they clung on to the lead supplied by Willie Kinniburgh on 84 minutes.
However, Craig Beattie smuggled in an equaliser in stoppage time to loosen briefly the noose around Strachan's neck. Conceding nine goals in two games is not advisable for any new manager, though, and on the back of the humiliating 5-0 whipping in Slovakia by Artmedia Bratislava in the Champions' League this was enough to bring a whiff of mutiny to the angry Celtic support.
"I don't think anyone could explain how a team has lost nine goals in two games," admitted Strachan. "We have a problem, there's no doubt about that. Individually and as a unit, mistakes are being made. We have to sort it out."
There seems precious little time. Celtic face Artmedia tomorrow at Parkhead, seeking a miracle to overturn that deficit.
Butcher believes that Celtic can score five, but whether they can keep a clean sheet is in question. Despite the comfort zone supplied by John Hartson's first half hat-trick - two headers and a penalty - they allowed Motherwell to climb back from 3-1 down.
Jim Hamilton, Scott McDonald and Kinniburgh all found space to fire headers past David Marshall.
"After Bratislava, this was a body blow," Strachan said. "We have to lift ourselves but there is no magic formula."
Goals: Hartson (14) 0-1; Kerr (20) 1-1; Hartson (32) 1-2; Hartson pen (44) 1-3; Hamilton (58) 2-3; McDonald (60) 3-3; Kinniburgh (84) 4-3; Beattie (90) 4-4.
Motherwell: Marshall; P Quinn, Kinniburgh, Craigan, Hammell, McCormack (Fagan, 70), Leitch (Kerr, 9), O'Donnell, Paterson, McDonald (Wright, 86), Hamilton. Substitutes not used: G Smith, Keogh, Fitzpatrick, Darren Lee Smith.
Celtic: Marshall; Telfer, Varga, McManus, Camara, McGeady (Beattie, 68), Lennon, Petrov, Thompson, Maloney, Hartson. Substitutes not used: Boruc, Baldé, Aliadière, Wallace, Lawson, Gardyne.
Referee: M McCurry.
Booked: Motherwell Hammell, McDonald; Celtic Varga, McManus.
Man of the match: Hartson.
Attendance: 9,903.Reuse content