The Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood and his Birmingham City counterpart Gary Rowett found themselves at odds with the latter pouring scorn on Sherwood’s tactics and claiming he knew the Villa team ahead of their Capital One Cup third round tie.
Rowett’s side lost 1-0 to a second half Rudy Gestede goal but not before Birmingham had run Villa close in the first half. Sherwood said in television interviews after the match that Villa’s original game-plan was to hit the ball long in the first half and then change formation at half-time to open up the space in midfield. Villa were booed by their own fans at the end of the first half.
Rowett 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.” He said that believed Sherwood changed the team in the second half “out of desperation”.
Sherwood brought on Jack Grealish and Jordan Ayew in the second half, saying that it had always been his intention to stretch the game, allowing the 20-year-old midfielder to exert his control. Grealish found Jordan Amavi with a pass for the cross for Gestede’s goal, and Ayew was effective down Villa’s right wing.
Rowett also claimed that he knew the Villa team in advance and that his side had trained with that in mind. Sherwood was unimpressed when told that Rowett had known his team. “Why would he say that?” he responded. Asked whether it was a concern he replied, “Of course, that’s not nice is it? Did he tell you who it was?”
Sherwood said: “It was always the plan to go very direct in the first period. If you looked at their back two in the second period they were ten to 15 yards deeper. They were worn down in the second period and we should have won by more.
“They were caught by surprise because all of a sudden we stopped hitting it long and got Jack on the. Veretout and Westwood got on the ball more often and started popping it around. I was happy with the second period. I was happy with the first to be honest. It wasn’t great to watch, but it isn’t about that, it’s about winning it and we managed to win it.
“We were on a hiding to nothing tonight. All we could do was come here and fail. We didn’t. We showed a lot of bottle. The boys stuck to it, especially after a first-half like that. Even though that’s how I wanted them to play.”
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