Derby County forward Johnny Russell says missing out on promotion to the Premier League means their season must be viewed as a failure.
The Rams spent more than £25m this season, but lost 3-2 to Hull City in the Championship play-off semi-finals.
Russell told BBC Radio Derby: “You can only look on it as a failure. There’s no point in sugar-coating it.
“Nobody has a right to play in the Premier League but with our squad, we should be.”
New head coach Paul Clement was sacked in February after 33 games in charge, with the club five points off top spot.
His replacement Darren Wassall secured a play-off place, but a 3-0 home defeat in the first leg against the Tigers proved decisive.
“We played absolutely brilliant [on Tuesday night],” Russell said. “But we all know we lost this on Saturday. You can’t put in a performance like we did on Saturday and expect go through; it killed us.
“We deserved criticism after a performance like that. Some of the stuff that was said was a bit over the top and was verging on abuse. But we went down far too easy. We crumbled.
“It just makes it more frustrating when we show what we can do.
“I don’t think anyone can say we didn’t have the heart and desire in the second leg. There is a great bunch of lads here and to have that questioned is pretty annoying. But we didn’t give much of a defence on Saturday.”