The relatively unknown 21 year-old was given the nod by manager Gerard Houllier after Stephen Ireland and Ciaran Clark joined Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker, Fabian Delph and Steve Sidwell on the central midfielder casualty list.
Clark was ruled out of the match with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side due to a calf problem, whilst Ireland was absent because of a virus.
Hogg’s only previous appearance for Villa came earlier on in the season when he started under Kevin McDonald in the Europa League play-off tie with Rapid Vienna in Austria. Apart from that solitary appearance and a handful of unused substitute spots, the youngster has had little involvement with the first team squad.
Hogg revealed that after he was told he would be in the starting line-up, he wasn’t anxious – he simply saw it as his chance to shine.
Speaking after the match, Hogg said: “I was told on the training pitch. We were doing team shape and the manager read the team out and said ‘Hoggy – you’re in the centre of midfield and I want you to mark Fletcher’.
“I just thought ‘brilliant’ here is my chance to show them what I can do. We got the draw at the end of the day so it was brilliant. At the start of the game we would have been happy with a point. We were a bit disappointed we did just get the one as we were 2-0 and then they scored two late goals. But we were happy with a point at the end of the day.”
Hogg really threw the gauntlet down to his manager as he revealed his delight in keeping United’s midfield duo of Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick quiet throughout.
“It was brilliant. Not many people can say they made their debut against Manchester United,” he continued. “I absolutely loved it. It’s the first time I have achieved this and hopefully there are many more games to come.
“I can’t wait until the next match now – I wish there was one on Wednesday. I went out there and all the fans were singing. It was tremendous. The fans were unbelievable.
“The nerves took over – you don’t get tired you just keep going and going. I just loved it. It was perfect for me as Manchester United are full of energy. I was getting around the pitch and loving every minute of it.”
Hogg was joined in the centre of midfield for the match by 20 year-old Barry Bannan, who himself has only made six Premier League appearances. The Scot turned in a man of the match display against the Red Devils and has been widely tipped to become a real asset to Gerard Houllier.
With a combined age of just 41, Hogg and Bannan seemed to relish their role in the heart of the team as they put in promising performances that has excited Villa followers everywhere as to what these young stalwarts can produce in the future.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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