Aston Villa will face off against their former manager Steve Bruce once again this week with pressure mounting on the Newcastle United boss. Speaking about his move to Villa previously, McGinn put his transfer down to Bruce’s power of persuasion over a bite to eat, leaving then-Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers red-faced after an 11th-hour rejection.
John McGinn said “It was a nice meal, Steve was great. He made me feel really welcome. He made it clear how much he wanted to sign me and that is a great thing to hear. He has coached and played at a high level and he is really respected. I think I can have a good relationship with him and he knows that I will bring 100 per cent. wIt has been a crazy few days and I am delighted to have joined a club like Aston Villa. I was walking around the Edinburgh fringe when I got the call on Monday and flew down. I just got a really good feeling about the place and knew that this is the place that I wanted to come. When I went to sit in the stand at Villa Park I could imagine myself playing there. It is a brilliant place to place. It felt right.”
And felt right indeed with Bruce just last season on his return to Villa Park labelling that McGinn masterstroke as his “best-ever signing” in his 23-year management career.
Steve Bruce said: “How we got him out of Celtic, I don’t know because his grandfather was the chairman. It took a couple of games of golf at the Belfry with his dad until we could muster the money together (amid Villa’s financial struggles in the summer of 2018). I am delighted for the kid because he is smashing lad. It took him about a minute to win over the Villa supporters because he crashed into a tackle and sprayed a 50-yard pass, and had a shot in first few minutes. He has to be one of my best ever signings because he has the determination to do well. From what he has done in the last 12 months, he can only improve… he has done brilliantly. I always knew he would be good, but he has surpassed even my expectations. He can go on to become a really top player. I wish I could find a few more like him.”
As for Rodgers, he was left frustrated and later walked away from Celtic Park just six months after failing to sign McGinn.
Brendan Rodgers said “There are things you can learn whether you sign a player or not, It’s gone so we move on. I spoke to John at length on Wednesday just to wish him all the very best. It’s a great move for him. There’s disappointment for us – especially when you are a lifelong Celtic supporter. But he is joining another illustrious club with a great history, a good boss and has the chance to play in England. He has developed a lot in last couple of years.”
60-year-old Steve Bruce is said to be fighting for his job on Tyneside with the Magpies hovering just a point above the dreaded drop-zone after four games without a win. Bruce, meanwhile, spent 102 matches in charge of Villa across two years between October 2016 and October 2018 before Dean Smith replaced him. Bruce won 46 of his 102 games but relations soon strained with Villa supporters after the dour defeat in the 2018 play-off final against Fulham. Toon chief Bruce, though, pulled off one of Villa’s best-value deals when he persuaded John McGinn to shun boyhood club Celtic and sign for ViIla for around £2.75 million in August 2018. Two months later Bruce was sacked. As for McGinn, the Scottish international has gone from strength to strength and has been a mainstay in Smith’s Villa squad ever since. The midfielder will make his 100th appearance on Friday night up at St James’s Park.
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