IMAGINE, if you will, a stranger screaming expletives at you, and knowing that you just have to take it. For footballers, such scenarios come with the territory on a weekly basis, and Leigh Griffiths knows as well as anyone that his own reaction to it at Rugby Park on Wednesday was misguided to say the least.

His captain Scott Brown isn’t about to crucify him though for tossing a bit of sock tape at an opposition supporter as he did at Kilmarnock, however much he might disagree with what he did. He is just delighted to see Griffiths setting about the silencing of his many doubters and detractors in the far more constructive manner of finding the back of the net.

He did that for the second time in two matches by bagging Celtic’s second goal on the night in the 3-1 win in Ayrshire, and Brown believes the focus should be on where his putting the ball, rather than on a ball of silver tape.

“I’ve not seen that back, but I’ve heard there’s nothing in it to be perfectly honest,” Brown said. “I think a lot more has happened in the last five or six weeks than that.

“It’s hard because the wee man gets so much grief. I’ve been there and had it. Everyone learns from their mistakes. I’ve been there and I’m sure the wee man will be fine.

“It’s part and parcel. People don’t like him because he scores goals and is a good player. That’s why they want to shout at him and abuse him on Twitter and things. It’s because you are a threat and they think they can get in your head. There’s not a lot getting in the wee man’s head!

“I think fans think they can do and say what they want for 90 minutes. They’ve paid their money so they can chant or shout anything, then someone gives it back.

“You can’t do anything these days. You can’t show joy or celebrate. Down in England you score a goal and you’ve got VAR for half an hour to see what’s happened.

“The love of the game is slowly getting pulled away due to different things. We should get back to worrying about the football rather than all the things off the pitch. We should be thinking about how we can improve the SPFL rather than the other stuff.

“I’ve had [criticism] as well and I’ve gave it back. There’s a time and a place to give it. He felt that was his time and place.

“Everyone knows he’ll score goals, he just needs to make sure he’s doing it week in, week out.

“As long as he keeps doing that, he’ll silence all the critics.”

Griffiths appears to be finding renewed impetus and focus from a siege mentality that he has adopted, as he sets about proving that he can still cut it at Celtic to those who had prematurely called time on his career at the club.

Even Griffiths knows though that the world isn’t actually out to get him. In fact, the great irony in all of this is that the vast majority of football fans in Scotland – not just Celtic supporters - are desperately willing him to get back to his best so that he can spearhead the nation’s attack when the Euro 2020 play-off fixture against Israel rolls around in March.

“I think he knows people love him,” said Brown. “But there are some other people who don’t like him as much.

“I think he thrives off both sides of it. That’s how he goes and scores goals. When people write him off, he comes back and scores again.

“That’s what good footballers do; they thrive off both the positivity and the negativity. You can either go one way or the other. You can down tools and soon be out the building. Or you can go again, score more goals, and keep going.

“The thing about Griff is that you know when he gets in that box - or even from 25 yards out - there’s a good chance the ball will be going in the net. That’s why we need the wee man as fit as he can possibly be.

“He needs to make sure he does everything right between now and the end of the season to make sure he stays in the team. He needs to work as hard as he possibly can in training like everyone else does.

“He’s been in a good place for ages. He just has to maintain the levels needed to produce week in, week out.”

Meanwhile, Brown is relishing the opportunity to soak up as much tactical knowledge as he can from manager Neil Lennon, with his decision to flit between formations of late allowing the Celtic skipper to pick up notes on preparation for his prospective future career as a manager in his own right.

“Football’s all about learning and it’s great for me because one day I want to do what these guys are doing,” he said.

“I’m learning from the best because I’ve played under some great managers and, while I can always call them, it’s better to see first-hand just how it’s done.

“We can speak to them about these things there and then about how they see the game. Against Partick Thistle we played 4-4-2 with a diamond and, at Kilmarnock, it was a 3-5-2 and we also have 4-3-3 in our locker. Everyone knows their jobs and there can be no excuses as to who your man is or where you should be when their left-winger has the ball.

“Those little things might only add up to 2-3% but they can win you games. It can also throw opponents if they don’t know what to expect from us – we could play the same starting XI in three consecutive matches with a different formation in each of them.”