Tim Sherwood insists it was his plan for Aston Villa to start slowly after substitute Jack Grealish inspired a 1-0 victory over Birmingham.
Villa were booed off by their own fans at half-time of the third-round League Cup tie, before Rudy Gestede headed the winner in an improved second half, sparked to life by the introduction of 20-year-old Grealish.
“I think we deserved to win by a lot more,” Sherwood said.
“We showed a lot of bottle, even after a first half like that – even though it’s how I wanted them to play. They took a lot of criticism out there but in the second half they were brave enough to get the ball.
“Jack has the potential to be a top player. It was the plan to bring him on at half-time. He didn’t know when he was coming on – I didn’t say to him ‘you’re going to come on in the second half’.
“I had a word with Jack in the week about trying to put some work rate in out of possession. I’m not asking him to be a tiger in the midfield; I want him to get back into shape and he might help us out when we win the ball back.”
Following the game, Birmingham manager Gary Rowett claimed he had been leaked the Villa line-up the day before the derby.
However Sherwood appeared unconcerned by such talk and questioned why his opposite number made the assertions.
“I actually knew their team yesterday funnily enough, and we did a little bit of work against it, got some runners into some great positions first half,” Rowett said.
“That often happens – you often get a little tip off. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re not. We haven’t chased that.
“I felt they did themselves a lot of justice; I don’t think there are too many players who would come off and say Villa have won the game easily.
“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.”