Wayne Rooney gave himself a slap on the wrist despite a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield that lifted his team seven points clear of the relegation zone.
The Derby manager admitted he needed to make some tactical changes that helped secure a fourth straight home win.
In the end, it was comfortable for Rooney and Derby but it might have been different if Fraizer Campbell’s 11th-minute flick had not been athletically turned over by David Marshall.
But that was as good as it got for Huddersfield who failed to clear their lines in the 22nd minute which allowed Nathan Byrne to cross for George Edmundson to head home his first Derby goal.
It gave the hosts an advantage they never looked like relinquishing as Huddersfield struggled to create a clear chance and the second goal in the 66th minute ended the contest.
Colin Kazim-Richards delivered a superb pass from inside his own half to send Martyn Wagorn away to score his first goal since October.
Huddersfield never looked like getting back in the game and ended with 10 men when substitute Jayden Brown was dismissed for second bookable offence in the 89th minute.
Rooney said: “I said to the players at half-time, ‘tactically I got it wrong’. I’ve no shame in saying that and I had to change it so first half I take full responsibility for the performance because it wasn’t good enough.
“But thankfully we got the goal and went in 1-0 up and it allowed me to make the changes.
“I changed the shape because I felt we could cause Huddersfield more problems than we did but it actually went the other way and they caused us more problems.
“I’ve no shame in saying I got it wrong, that will happen, but I felt the reaction from the players when I made the change back to a back four was very good.
“I think we’re doing what we need to do, we’re getting good results at the right time so in terms of how we’re playing, the main objective of each game is to get three points and until we have some breathing space to worry about getting better performances, that will remain the same.”
Huddersfield head coach Carlos Corberan said: “We knew how important it was to come here and try and get a positive result and not get the painful and disappointing feeling that we have now.
“One of the points we tried to sort in the second half was to attack with more determination but we didn’t create enough chances and find the spaces and options to change the balance of the game.”