City’s UEFA Champions League adventure is at an end after a 4-1 aggregate defeat to FC Barcelona.
Despite a valiant effort from the Blues at the Camp Nou, the 2-0 deficit from the first-leg proved to be too large for Manuel Pellegrini’s men to overturn and two more goals from Lionel Messi and Daniel Alves settled the tie.
Ruben Cousillas stood in for Pellegrini in the post-match press conference and revealed that he was satisfied with the character shown by the team to go down fighting.
The City Assistant believes that the performance provided evidence that the Blues were getting back to their best after a difficult period.
“We played a great game against a very good opponent,” Cousillas reflected.
“Today City played very well and we had some chances to score the first goal when the game was 0-0 but they also had some good chances.
“We showed character in the team – they went back to the level we were used to before and against a very tough opponent.
“Also, it’s always very difficult to play against a very important team like Barca with ten men, that’s why we’re frustrated but happy with the team performance.
“After the game, Manuel came down to the dressing room and we talked about the game."
"He [Pellegrini] was satisfied with the team performance but we’re not happy with the result and with losing the tie.”
After Sunday’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Wigan, it means that City now only have the Premier League to fight for in the remainder of the season.
Ruben was philosophical in defeat and reminded the gathered journalists that their project was still in its infancy.
“We’ve been at the club only for eight months so our project is only in its early stages,” he said.
“We’ve won our first title already. Until last weekend we were the only team playing in all four competitions – something which is very hard to accomplish because of the amount of games you have to play.
“We work for a big club, a club which gives us the best tools to work. We know the responsibility we have and we know how important it is to win the Premier League.
“It’s not an added pressure – it’s the same pressure we’ve had in every club we’ve worked but here we have a great squad and great support from the directors of the club, so we are confident and we have to take one step forward every day to improve.
“Unfortunately, now we are out of two competitions, but we’re still alive in the Premier League with a lot of chances.
“Today the team proved that it’s improving and going back to a good level after a difficult period in February.
“We showed that we are alive and we’re going to fight for the Premier League and, like I said, our project is long term.”
Finally, the Argentine coach gave an update on Sergio Aguero’s condition and stated that the striker would have stayed on for the 90 minutes if he had not felt a muscle pain in the first-half.
“It’s too early to say how long Sergio will be sidelined - apparently it’s nothing too important,” Cousillas declared.
“He felt some pain in his muscle and he went off as a precaution more than anything.
“Tomorrow he will have some medical tests and the doctor will let us know how important the injury is.
“Aguero would have played the whole game if he had not been injured and would have played the second half with another striker.”
“No-one can say that playing with another striker from the start; we would have got more chances. We couldn't afford to concede the first goal in the first half.
“Not always when you play with more central strikers do you have more chances – we usually play with two but today we thought that against Barca who have very good players in the midfield, we needed to balance this a little bit.
“That’s why we tried to play with one more midfielder and I think the result was good in our performance.”