Unai Emery was confirmed as Aston Villa’s new manager on Monday and the Spaniard will have some big decisions to make if he wants to turn his new side’s fortunes around.
A 4-0 win against Brentford saw Villa distance themselves from the Premier League relegation places last weekend and Emery will be hoping to continue that momentum when his new side face Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon, although he won’t officially be in charge.
The former Arsenal boss will simply be watching on in Newcastle before taking charge of his first game against Manchester United the following week, but he will no doubt be in communication with interim manager Aaron Danks about the squad selection.
Emery will hopefully take note of last Saturday’s performance, which was undoubtedly the best of the season thus far, and realise that John McGinn needs a spell on the sidelines.
The Scotland international was made captain by Steven Gerrard and started every Premier League game under the former manager, despite a disappointing start to the season.
In 12 appearances in 2022/23, the former Hibernian man has failed to contribute a single goal or assist and has averaged a less-than-impressive 6.60 rating from WhoScored for his performances, which ranks him as the seventh-best player in the squad.
Gerrard admitted that McGinn hadn’t enjoyed his best start to the season yet continued to play him, with his preference for certain players arguably a major factor in his downfall at Villa Park.
He said: “He’s very honest and humble. He knows where he needs to get to and, in terms of his Villa form, he will get there, but he’s fighting extremely hard for it. He’s one I trust, for sure, because, OK, he might have made a few mistakes in possession and perhaps isn’t firing on all cylinders personally in possession but, out of possession, he’s been magnificent.”
In his absence against Brentford, Leander Dendoncker was handed his first start for the club and certainly took his chance, earning a 7.67 rating for his performance.
Therefore, Emery must be ruthless when making his first-team selections and ditch his captain from the starting eleven until his form improves, as Dendoncker doesn’t deserve to be dropped.