Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has set a target of a top-four finish at the end of the season, maintaining that the 18-time champions will be happy to settle for fourth place.
Liverpool have picked up just five points from as many games in the Premier League so far and suffered the humiliation of being dumped out of the Carling Cup by League Two Northampton Town on Wednesday. But while Gerrard stopped short of writing off their title challenge, he has set some realistic targets for the club this season.
''A realistic target is to try to get back in the top four,'' he said in the Daily Mail. ''Winning the title, of course, is a possibility because there's a chance it can happen. But realistically, our focus is to finish in the top four.
''If we finish first, second or third, fantastic, great, and we certainly won't give up on that. We'll fight all the way to the end, but at the start of the season, you have targets and, from a realistic point of view, after finishing seventh last season, our target was always to get back in the top four.''
Despite one of the biggest upsets in the club's history against Northampton, Gerrard thinks the side can pick themselves up and learn from their mistakes.
''Football isn't just about highs and those who were involved against Northampton will learn from the experience,'' he said. ''I have had highs and lows throughout my career and probably learned more from the lows because you look at yourself first.
''You look at what went wrong and try to learn from your mistakes. The players are allowed to be down today, but it's up to players like myself to pick them back up, because the last thing we want is people sulking with their heads down, three days away from a massive game against Sunderland.''