Gary Rowett believes the first half performance of his Birmingham City side forced Aston Villa into desperate measures on Tuesday night.
The two Midlands rivals were paired together in the League Cup third round at Villa Park and the Blues gave a good account of themselves against their Premier League opposition, particularly in the first period. But it was the home side who eventually came out winners, with a single Rudy Gestede goal just past the hour mark enough to defeat the Championship side.
After the match Tim Sherwood claimed this victory owed much to his tactics, which involved Villa playing a long-ball game in the first half to wear down City’s midfield and force their defence play deeper. He then introduced the increasingly impressive Jack Grealish for the second half to make advantage of the extra space and play in a short passing style.
The Villa boss insisted this was always his plan, and his side did improve after the break and arguably deserve their place in the last 16 of a competition they have won five times. But his opposite number Rowett dismissed the claims from Sherwood, and instead gave his version that the performance of the Blues in the first half forced their opponents into desperation.
“I think he’s talking absolute rubbish to be honest with you,” he said. “I have heard Tim said he purposely let us do that in the first half so they could change tactics in the second half but I’m not sure a tactic of getting booed at half-time would particularly be a good one. I felt first-half tactically we got the game spot on, I actually knew their team yesterday funnily enough.
“We did a little bit of work against it. That often happens, you get a little tip off. Sometimes they’re right sometimes they’re not. We haven’t chased that. We got some runners into some great positions first half. Out of desperation they changed it at half-time because they had to. Jack Grealish got into good pockets and made it difficult for us to press in the same intensity.”