Lee Carsley expressed his pride for the way Man City Under-18s performed on the big stage.
The Blues romped to a 6-0 thrashing of Stoke in the FA Youth Cup first leg, watched by 3,205 at the Academy Stadium and thousands more on Facebook Live.
The manager explained that succeeding in high-pressure circumstances is crucial for the players’ development.
“There has been a lot of fuss made about this team and these players,” he reflected, “and I’m so glad they dealt with the pressure, despite the fact they are still young. They were outstanding.
“It was really good for the lads to have people come to watch them.
“I see the quality every day and now everyone has had a good look at that.”
While Carsley was naturally pleased with the quality of the strikes, he hailed the team’s work rate as his highlight.
He continued: “The goals were pleasing but more importantly, was the work ethic: the way they pressed, the way they tried to win the ball back, the amount of shots they blocked… They stood up to Stoke’s physicality.
“Everyone will look at the goals but there were a lot of good performances tonight.”
Nmecha’s treble ensured the forward has seven goals in the Youth Cup this year – another feat that pleased the manager.
“He did well,” Carsley declared. “I wouldn’t say he is playing with that much confidence at the moment – he took a bit of a knock – but he was outstanding tonight.
“His workrate and the way he chased and harried, as well as making space for other players, was pleasing to see.”
With such a strong advantage to take into the second leg, City could be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas – but Carsley insists that is not in their plans, with the threat the Potters pose.
“Stoke hit the post twice, which were good chances for them out of nothing,” he stated.
“We knew they were a threat and we’ll be aware of it in the second leg. They have some quality players.
“It’s important for the mentality that we do it right. We have to give Stoke the respect they deserve – they are a good team.
“We’ve had one of those nights where we’ve taken almost every chance we had but I still thought it was tight in terms of the chances they had at 1-0. If one of those goes in, it’s game on.
“We will have to be at our best to get anything at Stoke.”