It has been a difficult past week for the deposed champions of last season with dismal defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup final followed by the sacking of manager Roberto Mancini.
Richards felt the players showed their spirit by winning comfortably at Reading in their penultimate game of the campaign on Tuesday.
The 2-0 victory at the Madejski Stadium, which came less than 24 hours after confirmation of Mancini's departure, was enough to secure second place in the Barclays Premier League.
Richards, who stood in as captain in the absence of the rested Vincent Kompany, told the club's website, www.mcfc.co.uk: "The game at Reading was massive for us because we'd just lost to Wigan and we needed a win and a good performance and we delivered on both counts.
"Reading may have already been relegated but we played really well and would have beaten most teams with that display."
Richards feels the team will now have the freedom to entertain in their final Premier League game against Norwich at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Mancini's former assistant boss Brian Kidd remains in interim charge of the team.
Richards said: "There's no pressure on either us or Norwich so I think you'll see an open, entertaining game and hopefully that will reflect in our play."
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