Steve Bruce praised his players' performance after Wigan deservedly beat Portsmouth 1-0 at the JJB Stadium.
Hugo Rodallega's first-half strike proved the difference between the sides, although the Latics then spurned other chances to put the result beyond doubt.
The victory ended a run of three successive defeats and means the Latics finished 11th in the league table - their best performance since the all-time high of 10th under Paul Jewell in 2005/06.
Bruce told Sky Sports that securing safety with eight games to go had produced a negative effect rather than a positive one.
But he said: "Overall, I do believe that you are where you finish. For a club like ours to finish 11th, considering the changes we made in January, then everyone can go away, especially after today, with a smile on their face and say 'Well, job well done'."
More moneyThe 11th place finish means Wigan will earn more prize money and Bruce said: "I don't really know the finances but I presume its probably about £2-3million so it might get me a centre forward next year, that's for sure."
He was pleased with how his team had played against Pompey, adding: "I thought we were excellent - I thought our movement was terrific upfront.
"If we have got an Achilles heel, I think we are in the top five or six for attempts on goal, but if you've seen it today we must have missed chance after chance after chance and didn't take enough of them, but I think we were worthy winners and could have won more comfortably."
Bruce praised goalscorer Rodallega, who found the net for the third time in four games after taking a while to settle into the Premier League.
"He's got better and I think he will be a real, real force next year if he keeps improving like he has," said Bruce, who admitted he would find it very difficult to stand in the way of man-of-the-match Antonio Valencia securing a move to a bigger club in the summer.
"He deserves to play for a big, huge club because he is a terrific player as we've seen today," said Bruce, who added Wigan only have one striker on their books at present - Rodallega.
"So that's one area we have to improve on that we'll do that I'm sure," he said.
Bruce is a Newcastle fan from a Newcastle family and he said he was gutted the Magpies had gone down, with Middlesbrough also being relegated.
"It just shows you of what this Premier League is and not one club can take it for granted," he said.
"For a club like ours to finish 11th, it just shows you what we've done."