Where would Aston Villa be if they have appointed Dean Smith at the start of the season?
A calamitous start to the 2018/19 campaign under Steve Bruce saw the club’s supporters’ turn on their former boss as the Lions slipped to 12th in the Championship after a 3-3 draw against Preston North End in October.
This result proved to be the last straw for the club’s owners who replaced the former Hull City manager with Smith, who gave up his role at Brentford to move to Villa Park.
Since his appointment, the 47-year-old has adopted a more attacking style of play which has garnered a total of 39 points from his 25 games in charge of the Midlands-based side.
With Villa now eighth in the Championship and just two points behind Derby County who currently occupy the final place in the play-offs.
John McGinn is at the heart of the action.
The Scottish midfielder has been excellent for Smith’s side throughout the season and scored his third and fourth goal of the season in the Lions’ 3-1 away victory at Nottingham Forest. McGinn has also registered eight assists in the Championship with only Connor Hourihane providing more (10) for Villa during this year’s campaign.
Whereas Tammy Abraham’s 21 goals have been very important for the club, it can be argued that without McGinn the forward would not have received the necessary service to score anywhere near the total that he has achieved so far in England’s second tier.
Therefore, it is paramount that Villa keep the former Hibernian midfielder fit for the remaining fixtures if they are to launch a realistic challenge for promotion via the play-offs this season and achieve Wembley redemption after losing 1-0 to Fulham in the final last year.
Smith will be aware of McGinn’s involvement with his national team Scotland in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Kazakhstan and San Marino next week and will be hoping that he can make it through the two fixtures without suffering an injury.
What do you think Villa fans? Who important is McGinn to your play-off hopes? Is he your most important player? Get in touch below.