John McGinn’s return could be the key to lift us right out of the danger zone and help surge us towards the safety line. His renewed availability is massive, following a long injury layoff which has seen him unable to take to competitive action since the back end of December.
McGinn offers much more than what an average centre midfielder would, he is more of an all-round box to box midfielder. He possesses the ability to devise an attack through his neat ball playing skills combined with a vigorous endeavour, that sees him persistently flying in for challenges with that snappy bite needed to win turnovers.
McGinn on his own has the ability to start a progressive team manoeuvre, through his pressing of the opposition backline. It can be often found that the rest of the team respond by pushing upwards and complying with this shared operational approach. This can lead into either an interception or an unforced error where we could then retake possession.
This, for me, is the greatest strength the Scottish international possesses. When you have somebody chasing after every loose ball and is a recurring nightmare in directly running his opponent down, then this offers you a mechanism in which you can be much more efficient with the pressing system and so facilitate a growing collective confidence.
When we are able to retain possession and you have players like Grealish and McGinn who can operate numerous productive roles, then the rest of the team can come into their own and grow into any match situation.
If you look at the weaknesses of this season it can be often found that we are too loose with the ball, making too many mistakes and lacking enough courage in possession at the best of times. This has been particularly apparent in midfield where, ever since McGinn’s injury, there hasn’t really been one player who has stepped up, making the McGinn’s absence all the more painful.
Players like Douglas Luiz, Conor Hourihane and Marvelous Nakamba have all had decent games, yet I struggle to think of a time where they all actually clicked as a unit. It’s almost like McGinn has all of the attributes needed to be our complete midfielder and as such, it’s fair say it’s a killer blow for any team to lose such a player and one of their main men.
Going forwards, it is clear that we are going to have to scrap it out to get results, we’ll need to have the hunger to register the much needed wins and the grit and defiance to get ourselves up to the levels needed to escape relegation. I feel as if the spine of the team will be much clearer if McGinn is indeed fully fit.
Mings will be the one policing the defence and using his experience to try to keep the defence tight; protecting us from leaking too many goals which is one of the reasons we are in this precarious state. McGinn will be the astute engine room with the key to start a team press and help to support the forward line with better service. Then Grealish, I would presume, will be on the left in a roaming role with his creative vision and unique craft applying a purposeful and sustained threat offensively.
If all these key players are in form within the right system and we can return to action in a resurgent style, then there is no reason why this club cannot be playing Premier League football next season. McGinn’s return is a measurable projection of how we do have what it takes to beat the drop.
by Jamie Morris