The Blues boss was in upbeat mood despite the FA Cup loss to United and a potential four match ban for his influential skipper Vincent Kompany who was sent off for the second time this season.
Mancini watched with increasing satisfaction as his side battled away with ten men reducing United’s advantage from 3-0 at half-time to 3-2 at the final whistle.
“Of course I am disappointed that we have lost the game and gone out of the FA Cup but I was pleased that we played such a good game and I am proud of my players,” declared the City chief.
“The players have shown character and taken a step forward. I think more than ever that we can go on and win the league.
“If we show the same attitude and strength in other games that we showed against United with only ten men then yes we can win the league. I said we had to improve and I think we are doing so.
“To play 80 minutes against one of the best teams in Europe with ten men and come so close to saving the game was fantastic.”
Mancini said he felt that City should have had a late penalty for a handball by Phil Jones and confirmed that the club will appeal Kompany’s red card (below) which could see him miss both Carling Cup semi-finals against Liverpool and the big home clash with Spurs.
“I don’t think it was a red card, we will appeal and I hope we win the appeal,” he said. “But I don’t want to talk about the referee because I want to be on the bench for the next home game.”
The City boss also defended his decision to rest Joe Hart for the tie and play on-loan Romanian international Costel Pantilimon.
“I think it was right to leave Joe out,” he said. “If we need Costel late in the season then it is important that he gets time to play.”