Graham's Blog

John McGinn: Hero of the Holte End

In part two of my chat with John McGinn, we pick up just after hearing about how the midfielder’s beloved Celtic’s inexplicable dithering meant that Villa swooped for his signature. He relates the thrill of beating rivals West Brom in a penalty shootout to set up a play-off victory over Derby.

John also describes Scotland’s showdown in Serbia to clinch a place at the Euros. A simple but powerful team-talk from Steve Clarke had set the players up psychologically. John, who had been substituted, describes the agony of watching the penalty shootout from the stand. He needn’t have worried, because glory awaited.



John McGinn: The Fire Inside

It was a real pleasure catching up with Scotland and Aston Villa midfield maestro John McGinn.

John is a graduate of the academy at St Mirren where he was taught technique by progressive coaches – and also learned how to dodge fireworks! Let’s just say that training took place in Ferguslie Park, the more… boisterous end of Paisley. Hibernian came calling and John describes the Scottish Cup triumph of 2016 over Rangers, replete with a pitch invasion and a stirring rendition of the anthemic Sunshine on Leith.



Q&A Extra: Madrid’s Three-peat Part 2

Welcome back to my chat with Pete Jenson and Neil White in which we consider if Real Madrid’s Three-peat side are underrated.

As we heard in part one, certainly Real’s run-up to the first final was underwhelming and they had to take city rivals Atlético to penalties. But the 4-1 thrashing of Juve and then the beating of Liverpool surely deserve more credit. After all, this is a team which featured the likes of Isco, Benzema, Casemiro, Modric and Kroos, as well as talisman Cristiano Ronaldo. Having Ronaldo was like having a goal start, and it is a distinct possibility that he himself was underrated and misunderstood. Just ask any of his team-mates.

Q&A Extra: Madrid’s Three-peat Part 1

With Neil White in the chair, myself and Pete Jenson discussed a brilliant question from one of our Socios: Will time bring more respect to Real Madrid’s Three-peat team?

We’re talking, of course, about the side who clinched successive Champions Leagues in 2016, 2017 and 2018, all under the auspices of club legend Zinedine Zidane. There is a perception that somehow they stumbled their way to these titles, and they aren’t as lauded as the other Three-peat clubs, Ajax and Bayern, who both achieved the feat in the 1970s.

Roberto Mancini: Big Interview Icon

Welcome to our Big Interview Icons series where we shine a light on a legend whose name has lit up some of the conversations I’ve had with my guests over the last six years of The Big Interview. This episode focuses on Roberto Mancini.

At Sampdoria and Lazio, Mancini was Sven-Göran Eriksson’s artist, an elegant, Rolls Royce of a forward beloved by his manager and the club chairman. But he could also be a hothead, a man who lost the rag with team-mates or officials when things went wrong.

As for Mancini the manager, Micah Richards speaks about working under him at Manchester City. He found Mancini to be a brutally honest perfectionist who players either loved or hated. Micah just loved him. He improved him immeasurably as a player, made him fitter and more tactical aware, and, of course, delivered that incredible 2011/2012 Premier League title win in injury time.