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 were never in the hunt for a top-two finish, ending the campaign 13 points adrift of runners-up Sheffield United and a further five points behind champions Norwich.
Dean Smith’s side only forced their way into the play-offs with a perfectly-timed 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 Monday’s play-off final against Derby, estimated to be worth at least £170million to the winning club, as bigger than all of those occasions.
“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 now.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a few cup finals, the majority of them at Hampden. They’ve been sell-outs and you play in front of full houses at Celtic Park and Ibrox. Wembley is 90,000 but I’m used to big atmospheres and the pressure of those games and I can use that experience.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.