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Coming of age

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Having sat through a number of Manuel Pellegrini press conferences I can attest to the fact that they are not the most rousing of affairs. In fact, you are generally scrambling around looking to find anything you can take away from the ten minutes in his company following a game.

Pellegrini has been known to deviate from this default setting on very rare occasions; very much so if you recall the home game against Barcelona in last seasons Champions League. And following City's win in Rome yesterday it was a bullish Pellegrini in his post match press conference and talking of his team 'deserving more credit'.

"We have a lot of different critics. Last time we qualified with many points but played Barcelona and had a player sent off [in the last 16]. This year against the Russian team [CSKA Moscow] we drew a game and that was important but we recovered and we are playing the same way in Premier League and Champions League. This team deserve a little more credit than the press always give us."

As I wrote in the The Metro it was a performance that was certainly the most accomplished City have shown in the competition, a sign perhaps of a maturation of the squad after previous underachievement.

Yet Pellegrini has always backed them, even after the nadir of the CSKA defeat at home, finishing with nine men and seemingly out of the competition. He did so too under the continued chatter regarding his future, a future whilst not in doubt would have been questioned at large had City failed to progress given the importance the club place upon the competition.

To have done so then without the 'four-man spine' was even more impressive and the reaction of the players immediately after the game and today evidence of how much it meant to progress. Maybe we are overplaying the magnitude of the result in the immediate aftermath but maybe it did signal the moment the club came of age in the Champions League.

If so, Pellegrini has every right to be bullish as he reflects on victory.

p.s. Thanks to regular commenter Graham Ward we have a look at how a selection of the press reacted to City's win:

The Telegraph:

Times

The Mirror:

Mirror

Gazetta dello Sport:

Gazetta

The Express:

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