Southampton manager Ronald Koeman was delighted with his players after they secured Europa League football with a 4-1 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Goals from Sadio Mané, Graziano Pellè, Ryan Bertrand, and Steven Davis saw the Saints finish above West Ham, and possibly Manchester United, on the final day of the season at St Mary's.
"I'm very proud," Koeman told his club's official website. "We remember how difficult it was in January. It was a great reaction of the players.
"Even today, that's the difference. With all the respect, we had a lot of young players on the bench [last season]. Of course, that's part of the philosophy of the club, but really that level of players on the bench, if you need good substitutes, it's more this season.
"To finish in this place is difficult after a special season last year, because everybody knows Southampton, knows how strong we can be.
"Then, again, to finish with more points, a higher position in the table, it's an incredible achievement."