He sees the irony. And the potential for dropping his new gaffer — whoever that might be — right in it by saying the wrong thing.
So John McGinn, never anything less than combative on the field, tiptoes around the subject in unusually delicate fashion.
Thierry Henry as the new boss at Aston Villa? Very nice. But perhaps not as deliciously unexpected as being pitched into partnership with Brendan Rodgers… a matter of weeks after the Celtic manager failed to land him for Scotland’s champions.
John McGinn hopes to have a new boss at Villa following his stint with Scotland
‘That’s football, isn’t it? It’s ironic,’ said the Scotland regular. ‘We never know what’s going to happen.’
Still reeling a little from the departure of Steve Bruce, the man who took him to the Midlands, McGinn is understandably uneasy about what happens next. Life would be a lot simpler if the new gaffer was someone who had gone on the record with a very flattering public appraisal of the former Hibernian star. Someone just like Rodgers.
‘Aye — but I can’t affect that,’ said the 23-year-old. ‘I think Brendan came out the other day and said he’s happy at Celtic, he’s got a job to do.
Thierry Henry is set to become the new manager of Aston Villa, replacing Steve Bruce
‘So it would be unfair for me to comment on that and fuel the rumours. What will be will be.
‘If it is Brendan Rodgers or if it is somebody else, I’ll soon see. Hopefully, whoever comes in, I’ll be able to impress them.
‘Whoever comes in, it doesn’t matter what name they are. If they’re not getting results, there will be pressure.
‘When you go down and see the place, it’s an eye-opener. It’s a club that deserves to be in the top half of the top flight, a massive club. And that means it’s very demanding.
‘Obviously, it’s exciting that the club is attracting big names but it comes with the territory. You’ve got to prepare and you’ve got to produce.
Henry is likely have former Villa defender John Terry as his assistant at Villa Park
‘When you are at a club that has demands, there is going to be turbulence at some point. It’s never easy when a manager leaves and, obviously, he (Bruce) is the manager who signed me.
‘I’ve got a lot to thank him for and he was fantastic for me. But it’s football. It happens. It’s just never nice to see him and his staff lose their jobs.
‘These days, you’ve got to prepare for it. It doesn’t matter what league, what country you go to, there will be chopping and changing.
‘As a player, you’ve just got to try to focus on working hard, try to impress the new manager when he comes in. There have been a few interesting names linked with the job.
‘But, at any club, there is always a managerial merry-go-round. Everyone thinks somebody else has got it. You’ve just got to wait and trust that the club are doing the right things.
Terry and Henry made over 1,100 top flight appearances between them as players
‘Whoever comes in, I can, hopefully, manage to impress them and keep my place in the team.
‘The international break has come at a good time for me, in that sense.
‘Hopefully, I get a couple of games for Scotland, go back and have a new manager to settle in with.’
If Sunday’s friendly with Portugal can be written off as a mildly glamorous match of little or no import, Thursday’s Nations League tie in Israel holds obvious attraction for the Scots.
Some club managers, most notably Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, may have branded UEFA’s new baby ‘the most senseless competition in the world of football’.
Among Alex McLeish’s men, however, the absence of major finals appearances — a constant reminder for several generations now — tends to make players about as choosy as the proverbial beggar.
‘This competition gives us the opportunity to qualify for a major tournament, which we all want to do,’ said McGinn.
‘It gives opportunities for nations like ourselves who maybe haven’t been there for a long time.
‘We could be four games away from a finals and we’ve got one win out of one so far.
‘We’re not getting carried away but this is a good chance for us.’
McGinn beat himself up, emotionally, after being caught in possession for Belgium’s first goal in last month’s 4-0 thrashing at Hampden.
Admitting that victory over Albania in that first Nations League qualifier a few days later had helped ease his mind, the former St Mirren ace joked: ‘I nearly didn’t learn from that mistake — because I almost did it again in the Albania game!
‘The more you play, the more chance you have of being involved in one. It just so happened it was a high-profile one and it led to a goal.
‘It makes me think twice, even at club level. I got one at the weekend and I took a touch and just booted it!
‘I wasn’t going to get caught again. It wasn’t a nice feeling that night but it made me even more determined to put in a good performance in the Albania game. Thankfully, it went okay.
‘When you make a mistake like that, you want the ground to swallow you up.
‘You can either collapse, go under or puff your chest out and get on with it. That’s what I tried to do.
‘The manager (McLeish) says he trusts the way I play. I’m sure he’ll trust me again.’ McLeish might also be encouraging McGinn to shoot more often. On the volley. From 20 yards.
The playmaker takes only limited pleasure from reliving the stunning strike that made him a worldwide sensation, pointing out that Villa lost 2-1 at home to Sheffield Wednesday on the day.
‘It went viral,’ he said of the swirling wonder strike. ‘But we were eventually beaten and the manager was under pressure.
‘It didn’t work out the way we wanted. I wish it had been under better circumstances.
‘Obviously, I was delighted with the goal and to get the messages of support from around the world.
‘But, as nice as it was to score a goal like that, I’d rather have had a win.
‘I’ve just gone down and tried to do what I did at Hibs.
‘The supporters always appreciated that at Hibs — that I put in 100 per cent in every game.
‘I think that’s something that’s lacking a bit down south. Everything comes too easy.
‘Scottish players can’t forget that we need to work for everything we get.
‘That’s what I’m trying to do down there — and, thankfully, the fans have taken to me.’