Summer signing John McGinn was the outstanding performer on his debut, and through this has certainly made an impression with the Aston Villa faithful.
Words by Matt Blogg (@Blogg_Matt)
Villa’s home game against Wigan saw the birth of a new hero in claret and blue, with John McGinn putting in a man of the match performance on his debut for the club. He showed signs of every skill that a midfielder needs, with pace, vision, strength, skill and work-rate just to name a few.
Nicknamed McGinn-iesta already, the Scot could have a massive part to play this season if his debut was anything to go by.
Most Villa fans would probably admit to never having heard of John McGinn before deadline day, but after the Hibernian fans were so positive about him on social media, calling him a legend of the club at 23 years old, optimism certainly started to creep in.
And seeing his name in the starting line-up just shows how highly Steve Bruce rates him, as he benched the most influential midfielder in the Championship over the past two seasons in Conor Hourihane to give McGinn a start.
But to say the decision was justified would be a massive understatement. After just 13 minutes, McGinn had already drilled a cross from the left into a brilliant area that the keeper struggled to handle, and registered his first assist in England with a pin-point delivery onto the head of James Chester. Not a bad start to his Villa career.
Then later in the first half he managed to find acres of space in a crowded midfield and fire in a fizzing strike that again the keeper couldn’t hold, so his attacking threat was clear to every fan in the stadium by half time, and despite the disappointment of a catastrophic Wigan equaliser, fans were positive about their new number 7.
Some fans think McGinn was brought in to replace the irreplaceable Jack Grealish, but now Villa’s midfield can fit both of them, serious fear will be struck into opposition teams. Especially due to the fact that they don’t give you a moments rest on that pitch. John McGinn never stopped running on that Saturday and was Villa’s attacking outlet almost every time. It was always the Scot who picked up the ball deep in our half and drove at the heart of Wigan’s team, before releasing either an attacker or Jack Grealish.
In the 94 minutes, McGinn boasted an 81% passing accuracy which, in your first game in a very tough league, is pretty good going. He also attempted 6 crosses, and while only two of them technically found teammates with the assist and a cross in the second half onto Jedinak’s head, they were all dangerous. It was his corner that led to Wigan’s own goal, and he had whipped one in just before that had caused chaos in the Wigan 6 yard box, so his positivity and execution of his crosses was a big step in helping to endear himself to the Villa faithful.
As well as this, McGinn completed 100% of his attempted tackles and never shied away from a duel, completing 14, and every Villa fan loves a committed player. One of the biggest cheers of the game came when McGinn sprinted into the corner and flew into a fantastic slide-tackle to stop Wigan getting out of their defensive third, and that was the moment that thousands of Villa fans realised he was a special signing.
So after one of the best Villa debuts of the last 20 years, with an assist (arguably 2), a Man of the Match award and a standing ovation, it is clear to see that John McGinn has already endeared himself to the thousands of fans who crowded out Villa Park, and can be a key part of any promotion push that Villa may undertake.
We may be getting ahead of ourselves after just one game, but when the one game is as special as that, we can certainly be forgiven.