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Wednesday 16 October 2019

Only play-off success will redeem Villa's season

 

PRAISE: Frank Lampard. Pic: Reuters
PRAISE: Frank Lampard. Pic: Reuters

John McGinn thinks Aston Villa's season is a failure as it stands after not challenging for automatic promotion.

However, the club's player of the year believes Villa can redeem themselves with victory in the Championship play-off final - a game McGinn feels will be the biggest of his career.

Villa ended the campaign 13 points adrift of runners-up Sheffield United and a further five behind champions Norwich.

Dean Smith's side only forced their way into the play-offs with a club-record run of 10 successive wins in March and April.

McGinn said: "There have been so many highs and so many lows and I think overall this season has been a failure, initially.

"The size of this club, it should be in that top two and we've failed. But what we have done is give ourselves another avenue to achieve what we set out to do.

"We rolled up our sleeves and went on an unbelievable run and got to this final and I suppose that is an achievement in itself."

McGinn has won silverware in his native Scotland, lifting the Scottish League Cup with St Mirren in 2013 and the Scottish Cup and Scottish Championship title with Hibernian in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

However, the 24-year-old sees today's play-off final against Derby, estimated to be worth at least £170 million to the winning club, as bigger than all of those.

"It's the biggest game of my career, definitely, and I'm really looking forward to it," he said.

"Even up playing in Scotland, you keep an eye on the Championship play-off final. It's a game you always want a chance of playing in and we've got that opportunity.

"I've been lucky enough to be involved in a few cup finals, the majority of them at Hampden.

"Wembley is 90,000 but I'm used to big atmospheres and the pressure of those games and I can use that experience."

Meanwhile, former Derby captain Michael Johnson believes manager Frank Lampard is on the brink of greatness at the Rams.

Lampard has been linked with former club Chelsea if the Blues axe Maurizio Sarri after Wednesday's Europa League final against Arsenal.

Lampard is Chelsea's record scorer and won three Premier League titles at Stamford Bridge.

In his first season as a manager he has taken Derby to the Championship play-off final.

Derby ambassador Johnson feels Lampard could create a legacy at Pride Park.

"For us, and I know there are rumours, but if we had the manager for year two I think anything is possible," he said.

"This is the start of an amazing journey for him, I just hope it's with us. Frank has been brilliant."

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