Express & Star

John McGinn hails Aston Villa's Unai Emery masterstroke

John McGinn believes Villa pulled off a masterstroke by securing Unai Emery on a long-term contract after the boss was linked with Bayern Munich.


Reports in Germany claim Emery is a target for the Bavarian giants and their former captain, Lothar Matthaus, has publicly urged them to appoint the Spaniard as Thomas Tuchel’s successor.

But Villa are in a strong position thanks to Emery signing one of the longest managerial deals in club history when he replaced Steven Gerrard in November, 2022.

His deal still has three years left to run, while the fact he has been granted almost full control over football matters is another reason Villa are confident they can fend off any unwanted approaches.

McGinn said: "I'm still a bit wounded. I said hello to Lothar Matthaus in a lift in Dubai an he completely ignored me. That wasn't that good.

"He (Emery) is going to get linked with teams but I hope he's happy here. We love having him and his staff here and hopefully they are going to be here for many years to come.”

Emery described himself as “100 per cent focused” on Villa when the Bayern reports were put to him after Sunday’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth, which moved his team six points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham in the race for Champions League football.

Villa can extend the gap further when they host Chelsea on Saturday night and skipper McGinn said: "We all knew how important Sunday was. Now we have a nice gap, although Tottenham have two games in hand but we would certainly rather have the points than the games.

"We have another big game Saturday and want to make it nine points clear and give ourselves a chance to do something special.”

Sunday’s win ranked among Villa’s most impressive of the season, coming less than 72 hours after they beat Lille on penalties in the Europa Conference League.

Emery made just two changes to his starting XI and did not make a substitution until the 87th minute.

McGinn smiled: "I was thinking 'who is going off first?' To be fair the boys dug in deep.

"I thought the way we played was slightly different, we sat in a bit deeper and the attacks were brilliant.

"I thought it was Morgan Rogers’ best game in a Villa shirt. I would also go as far as saying it was Ollie Watkins’ as well which is a big shout.

"I thought he was outstanding. It's a huge win but we're absolutely knackered so we have a couple of days off to recharge the batteries - I'm going up the road to get a game of golf in.”