Strachan handed Balde his first start in exactly a year and, after a commanding performance from the Guinea international, the Celtic boss maintained he was happy to make the hard choices that come with being a football manager.
He said: “I felt this game needed a change in the back four and you could say Steven Pressley was a little bit unlucky (to miss out), but as I explained to him, sometimes managers have to make decisions like that and when you are a manager yourself, you will probably understand it.”
Balde was imperious as Celtic recorded their first clean sheet away from Parkhead since October 1, 2006, when they defeated Falkirk.
Since then the Hoops had gone 34 consecutive games on the road without managing to keep their opponents at bay, but finally ended that terrible run on Tayside.
More importantly, second-half goals from Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Stephen McManus allowed Celtic to reestablish their two-point lead over Rangers at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Vennegoor of Hesselink headed in from a Paul Hartley corner, while the former Hearts player then delivered a free-kick that allowed McManus to push the ball past Grzegorz Szamotulski from close range.
As well as the two goals, Barry Robson hit the bar for United, Celtic’s Scott Brown hammered a shot off a post, while Vennegoor of Hesselink saw a header brilliantly tipped onto the frame of his own goal by Szamotulski.
Szamotulski, Dillon, Wilkie, Dods, Flood, David Robertson (Conway 58), Buaben, Gomis, Robson, Hunt, Jordan Robertson.
Mark Brown, Caldwell, Balde, McManus, Naylor, McGeady, Scott Brown, Hartley, Jarosik (Donati 72), McDonald, Vennegoor of Hesselink.