Roberto Mancini believes that City were not far from their sizzling best in the 2-1 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage.
While the City boss was disappointed with Mark Halsey’s decision to award an early penalty to the home side, he was delighted with the 90 minutes his team played.
“We played a very good game, we played very good football – we scored two goals but we could have scored another two or three,” said Mancini.
“It was difficult because it was not a penalty and after 20 minutes we were 1-0 down, it was very difficult.”
Edin Dzeko has been City’s go-to man for crucial goal scoring contributions of late, and Mancini admitted it was a tough decision to leave him out of the starting line-up.
“It’s hard for me to take this decision but we play another important game in three days,” he said.
“I know I have good players and when I choose 11, another seven are on the bench.”
While we’re only six games into the Premier League season, it felt like a crucial three points, especially as Chelsea would have pulled eight points ahead of City without Dzeko’s late winner.
“It’s very important to stay close to United and Chelsea – especially in the difficult moment we are in but the season is very long,” Mancini declared.
“I think that today we were very close to being at the same level as we played last season.
“The difficulty we have is that 12 people started their pre-season 10 days before everyone else.
“I think that after the international break we will be OK.”
Fulham boss Martin Jol was philosophical in defeat - admitting that City deserved the win on the balance of play.
"It's very disappointing that they scored right at the end - they were two sloppy goals but they dominated possession and they were a better team than we've played so far this season," was Jol's verdict.
"They had 70% possession, they are strong, they have quality - you only have to look at their bench."