Jose Mourinho manfully attempted to put a positive spin on a week of frustration for Manchester United by claiming their long unbeaten run in the Premier League will act as a springboard for next season.
United's claim for a top-four spot has been hit by their failure to beat West Brom and Everton at Old Trafford over the past seven days with only a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty against the Toffees preventing a first defeat in 20 league games.
The EFL Cup winners head to Sunderland on Sunday hoping to close the gap on fourth-placed Manchester City, who could have opened up a seven-point advantage by the time Mourinho's men kick-off at the Stadium of Light.
Nevertheless, the Portuguese was in surprisingly upbeat mood on Friday and hopes a strong finish to the current season will provide a platform for a better 2017-18 campaign.
He told reporters: "Looking to the next season it's a good feeling to know that we don't lose many matches and had a fantastic run of 20 unbeaten matches in the Premier League.
"I know, as an example, 10 draws is 10 points [while] 10 matches with five victories is 15 points. What is better? The 15 points, obviously.
"[But] in terms of looking to the future, I prefer to look at 10 matches with 10 draws, you have something that is not easy to have.
"You are quite solid mentally, difficult to beat, fighting against difficult circumstances."
United have won just six of 16 league games at Old Trafford this season but Mourinho believes the way opponents have continually set up to contain proves his players are on the right track.
He added: "I still think in spite of the bad results we are strong at home. Why? Because we lost only one game [to Manchester City] and we know why we lost that, because strange things happened during it. One defeat at home in all competitions.
"What makes me think we are strong is the way opponents play against us.
"It's impossible for us to score on the counter-attack.
"We are not strong enough because we are not winning, we are not good enough to score the goals that we should.
"We are giving the opponents' goalkeeper a chance to be the man of the match so many times and I repeat what I said after the last match, it's not a criticism, but many, many decisions [by his players] have punished us during the whole season."