Roy Hodgson admitted England did not deserve to be cheered off following their dour goalless draw against Costa Rica.
England headed home on Tuesday night with their lowest points total in World Cup history.
After defeats to Italy and Uruguay, the Three Lions rounded off their World Cup campaign with a fittingly underwhelming stalemate in Belo Horizonte.
The England fans inside the Estadio Mineirao still stood and applauded the squad when they came over to them following the final whistle though.
And even though Hodgson thought his team played well in Belo Horizonte, he conceded the team's World Cup performance as a whole did not merit such a send off from the travelling support.
"We are very grateful for the emotional moment at the end where they showed their support," said the England manager, who has the full backing of the Football Association despite the team's poor showing in Brazil.
"We are so sad and disappointed for them because we know what they're going through.
"We had nothing to play for, and our fans appreciated that by giving us an ovation that, obviously, our results didn't merit."
For the third game in succession England wasted several good chances to clinch their first win in Brazil.
Daniel Sturridge missed three easy chances, although he should have been awarded a penalty when he was hacked down by Oscar Duerte in the first half.
And Hodgson's men would have gone behind had Ben Foster not tipped Celso Borges' free-kick on to the bar before the break.
But Luke Shaw, Jack Wilshere and Adam Lallana put in promising performances, which gives Hodgson hope looking towards 2016.
"We are disappointed that it was our final game in the competition because we wanted so much more," Hodgson added.
"But I thought there were a lot of positives to take out of the game with young players getting their first taste of World Cup football, which will serve them in good stead going forward."
After scoring 21 Premier League goals last season, Sturridge went into the World Cup in hot form.
The Liverpool striker scored against the Italians in Manaus, but his form has dipped as England's stay in Brazil has progressed.
Hodgson is not worried about the player's profligacy though.
''We created the chances, that is important, and normally Daniel is so clinical," Hodgson said.
''I am not that concerned. I know he will take the goal chances in the future. The important thing is to keep giving him the opportunity.
''But I have got to say I think we are really unlucky not to win this game.
''I am pleased at least to have given the fans something to cheer about it terms of our performance.''
Hodgson was impressed by Wilshere, Ross Barkley and Lallana, although the England manager conceded they still have work to do before they become top internationals.
"The midfielders, the young ones, showed they want to do the right thing, want to get on the front foot and be positive, and want to make things happen," Hodgson said.
"That's a very good thing. You accept they lose the ball sometimes or don't find the right pass, but at 18, 19, 20 we can't give them what Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard have.
"We can only give them the opportunity to play and hope they get there."
Costa Rica coach Jorge Pinto thought England played well.
"I would like to commend England on their performance," he said.
"They are a very good team.
"They have just been unlucky here.
"I thought it was a very even game. We are happy about the result."
Costa Rica will face the second-placed team in Group C in the next round.
Pinto hopes he will end up playing his birth country on Sunday.
"I have been ready to face Colombia for the last six months, I would love to play against them," said Pinto, who was born in San Gil.
"We don't know who it will be yet. It could be Ivory Coast, Japan or Greece instead.
"Whoever it is, we are willing to fight. We are confident.
"This was called the group of death, but it wasn't - not for us anyway."