Liverpool striker Peter Crouch has admitted his side have not been good enough to mount a serious Premier League title challenge this season.
Crouch has found it difficult to break into manager Rafael Benitez's first team since the arrival of Fernando Torres in the summer but struck in the 88th minute to hand his side a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on Monday night.
That result was the latest in a bad run at Anfield this season as the Reds have failed to turn some lavish summer spending into a marked improvement in the league.
And while Steven Gerrard has moved to lay some of the blame on the uncertainty surrounding the club's American owners and the long-term prospects of Benitez, Crouch insists the current side should be performing better regardless.
'With the squad we have at Liverpool, the gap to the top three is certainly too far. We felt before the season we would mount a serious challenge, but that doesn't appear to be the case now,' he said.
'We've fallen a long way behind and, like Stevie said, it's not good enough. There's enough talent in the dressing room.
'We've got a good set of players here. Whether it's good enough to win the title, I don't know, but we certainly should be doing better than the position we are in right now.'
The England forward, who is attracting interest from former club Portsmouth in the transfer window, now believes the club's main target is to maintain their place in the top four.
And he wants the players to achieve that aim despite the off-field speculation regarding a possible bid for Liverpool by Dubai International Capital as rumours over Benitez's future.
'It's nothing to do with the players. We've just got to concentrate on the job out on the pitch and we're still positive in the dressing room,' said Crouch.
'First and foremost now we have to cement a Champions League spot for next year, that's the minimum and that's what we have got to strive for.'