Season in Numbers: Bruce’s signing of McGinn has been inspiring for Aston Villa

The date is 22 September 2018. The venue is Villa Park and Sheffield Wednesday’s Daniel Pudil has just headed the ball away from what he thinks is impending danger.

Standing 25-yards from goal is John McGinn. Just take it and down and work another opening would have been the rational thought.

But McGinn isn’t rational. The Scot unleashes a remarkable volley on his left foot into the top corner and the Villa faithful erupt. The rest, they say, is history.

That was the 24-year-old’s first goal in the famous claret and blue strip and it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever score a better one in his entire career.

After arriving from Hibernian last summer, the midfielder has been a revelation. In many ways, he’s been even better than Jack Grealish.

The latter was named in the Team of the Year, but arguably his midfield partner would have been more deserving.

Steve Bruce was the man to bring him to the Midlands and, as a result, the Villa fans still owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to their former manager.

He didn’t get too much right during the first half of the season. The fact he played an out of sorts Mile Jedinak at centre-half proved his thinking was off the mark.

However, what he did get spot on, was the decision to bring McGinn to the Championship.

Looking back at it, it seems a masterstroke, especially given the injury that Grealish picked up midway through the campaign.

Therefore, without the former Hibs man, it’s unlikely Villa would be on the verge of securing a place in the Premier League.

On Monday they take on Derby at Wembley in the play-off final. It’s a game which needs no introduction. The result means everything for both clubs and their midfield general will again be crucial.

McGinn’s quality this season indicates he can make the step up to the Premier League. He has too much quality not to, and if Villa win, he’ll have the platform to finally show what he can do at the highest level.

In total, Villa’s number seven has found himself involved in 15 goals this term, playing a crucial role both in terms of finding the net himself and laying on chances for his teammates.

But what is arguably most impressive, barring his creativity and attacking nous, is his energy.

McGinn is an absolute engine in midfield and this compliments Grealish to perfection. Villa’s skipper has a tendency to get caught forward but the former is able to cover the ground in midfield with great tenacity.

His 14 yellow cards this term shows his willingness to get stuck in but his poor disciplinary record is nothing to be concerned about, even if there were fears a possible 15th booking would keep him out of the play-offs.

“Fair play nonsense!” – Watch one fan’s astonishing defence of Leeds’ controversial goal against Villa on Sunday in the video below…

When assessing what you want from a midfielder, McGinn has it all. Even with Bruce now gone, he’s left a lasting impact that could still prove telling in the club’s promotion charge.

Dean Smith has done a wonderful job since being appointed and will rightfully take the plaudits if Villa secure victory on bank holiday Monday.

Yet, in amongst that, there should still be light applause for Bruce. Without one of his signings Villa would have been a lot worse off.