Manager Louis van Gaal said “facts” proved his Manchester United side were better than last year, after they were knocked out of the Champions League.
United failed to qualify for the last 16 after a 3-2 defeat at Wolfsburg.
Van Gaal said reaching the group stage, progressing further in the Capital One Cup and sitting fourth in the Premier League showed their improvement.
However, he said: “I cannot defend myself because we are out of the Champions League.”
United are fourth in the Premier League, having finished in the same position in Van Gaal’s first season.
The former Netherlands coach, who replaced David Moyes in May 2014, led the Red Devils back into the Champions League after they failed to qualify for Europe under the Scot.
United were eliminated by Championship side Middlesbrough in the League Cup fourth round this season, following an embarrassing 4-0 second-round defeat by MK Dons in the same competition last season.
“When you see the facts – we went further in the Capital One Cup, qualified for the Champions League group, we have played all these matches and are still in a very good position in the league,” he said.
“The facts say we are better than last year. I’m also disappointed that we are out of the Champions League.”
‘We didn’t have an easy group’.
Expectations were high among United supporters that their team would comfortably progress from a group containing German runners-up Wolfsburg, Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven and Russian runners-up CSKA Moscow.
But Van Gaal rejected suggestions his side should have qualified comfortably.
“This was a tight group so I am not agreeing with any opinion that this was an easy group,” he said.