Steve Bruce is convinced Hull City will improve on last season's 16th-placed Premier League finish, despite slipping into the bottom three.
Hull drew 0-0 against West Brom on Saturday, Allan McGregor saving Graham Dorrans' first-half penalty in the only real opening of a poor game at the KC Stadium.
The stalemate stretched Hull's run of league matches without a win to eight and saw them drop into the relegation places following QPR's victory against Burnley.
The result is likely to increase the pressure on Hull boss Bruce, who last season led the club to the FA Cup final in their first season back in the top flight.
But Bruce could not fault his side's endeavour against West Brom, despite the fact they managed just two shots on target.
"There's always a disappointment when you don't take the three points, especially at home, and there lies the expectation," Bruce told BBC Humberside.
"We huffed and puffed, there was plenty of effort and endeavour and plenty of will from them to break through but we couldn't and the longer it went, I thought if any team was going to win it is going to be us.
"In the final third, we simply couldn't find that final pass or piece of creativity."
Bruce believes that lack of fluency stems from the fact he has not been able to field what he feels is his best starting line-up, but he is sure things will improve.
He added: "It's been frustrating for me because I haven't really played what I think is my best team, but that is this division and you are going to get three or four injuries, two or three suspensions.
"We have been in the division for 15 months and I am still convinced that we are going to finish higher than we did last year.
"When we have everybody back, we have a bigger and better squad than last year.
"There is no need for doom and gloom, we are only three points away from eight teams."
Bruce also moved to quell rumours of a bust-up between himself and Hatem Ben Arfa, who was withdrawn in the opening 45 minutes of last weekend's defeat at Manchester United.
"It's like because it's Hatem Ben Arfa there is supposed to be a bust-up," he said.
"There is no bust-up, he is still here, he is still part of the squad.
"He just has to roll his sleeves up, like somebody like David Meyler, and wait for his chance."comments