By Graham Hill
JOHN McGinn has admitted he is happy Thierry Henry was not made Villa manager.
Villa’s player of the year has made huge progress since being brought to the club by former boss Steve Bruce from Hibernian for a bargain £2.7million.
But when Bruce was sacked, it was Arsenal and France legend Henry whose name was in the frame.
And McGinn reckons that would not have been a good situation for him.
McGinn told Scotland’s Sunday Post: “I was worried when the new gaffer came in. That’s natural when there’s a change, and I always have wee worries like that in the back of my head.
“I was glad Thierry Henry wasn’t appointed because I don’t think I’d have been his type of player!
“Dean Smith had a good reputation down here for playing fast, attacking football.
“I just didn’t know whether he’d stick or twist because he could have brought in his own new players.
“Thankfully, the impression I made in the first few games and training sessions must have been good.
“We’ve now got a really good relationship. You can approach him about anything. He’s very laid-back.”
McGinn admits the pressure was on for Villa to get promoted at the start of the season.
Then, when it became obvious the top two was out of reach, the attention gradually switched to the Play-offs.
McGinn said: “It’s been a rollercoaster season, but an enjoyable one.
“At the start, there was massive pressure to get promoted. Ultimately, we’ve failed to be in the top two.
“After changing boss there was a bit of turmoil, but we went on a terrific run in the second half of the season.
“It was a turbulent time after Steve Bruce left, for me personally as well.
“I’ve got a lot to thank him for. He gave me the chance to play for Aston Villa, and from day one he was different class with me.
“It was tough on everyone when he left, but it was probably best to make a change at that point.
“Dean’s been a breath of fresh air. He didn’t know a lot about me initially but, after a couple of weeks, he pulled me in and said I’d be a massive part of what he wants to do at the club.
“He just told me to believe in myself a bit more, get further up the pitch and add different sides to my game.
“You always want to prove people wrong, and I felt that coming down here. A few people in Scotland thought I was just a runner.
“But Dean has helped me change that perception. I’m not an arrogant person – but he told me I needed to be more arrogant on the pitch.
“I had to get that into my play. The challenge of going up against new players down here has helped.
“There’s no better feeling than leaving the pitch, knowing you’ve got the better of them.
“If you’ve not got anyone to prove wrong, and that hunger to keep developing, that’s when you stall. I don’t want that to happen.
“So the change has been good for me, even though I’ll always be grateful to Steve Bruce for bringing me here.”