Last week Hibs lost a club legend when John McGinn headed to Aston Villa and it’s safe to say his presence will be missed by everyone at Easter Road.
He might have only been at Hibs for three years but he played in loads of high-profile matches – cup finals, semi-finals, derbies and big league matches. He’s certainly up there as one of the best I’ve seen play for the club and he’s a player the supporters will have in their hearts for a long time.
The thing that endeared me most to him was that I never saw him easing off while playing for us. He might not have played at his best in every game but he always gave everything he had and that means a lot to supporters. For me, he played like a captain – his hunger was always clear to see. I’ve not seen that level of desire in a young player for a long time, and that’s what will have appealed to managers like Steve Bruce and Brendan Rodgers.
I was pleased to see that he had an excellent debut for Aston Villa and I’d fully expect him to kick on to another level down there. I think it’s now only a matter of time before he’s established in Scotland’s starting XI.
The obvious concern is that he’s going to be really hard, if not impossible, to adequately replace. He’s one of those we probably won’t fully realise just how important he was for us until a month or so down the line when we’ve played a few games without him. He was very rarely injured while at Hibs, and when you’ve got a player as good as John who is always available for selection, it’s a godsend for a manager. We’ve recruited well this summer and I’ve got great trust in Neil Lennon to ensure we maintain our impressive progress, but filling the void left by McGinn will not be as straightforward as simply signing a new player to step seamlessly into his position. We’ll deal with it in the short term and we’ll move on as a club, but I think it will be very hard to inject the type of drive, thrust and energy into the team that he brought. It may even be that we have to think about playing in a slightly different way in order to overcome his absence.