Rafa Benitez admits he cannot guarantee Liverpool will challenge for the Premier League title next season.
Benitez's side finished 11 points behind champions Manchester United and never threatened to mount a serious bid for the English crown.
After 18 years without title success, the pressure is on Benitez to end that drought in 2008-09. But the Spanish coach has delivered a downbeat appraisal of their chances in the forthcoming campaign that will hardly inspire players or fans at Anfield.
Benitez knows Chelsea are certain to hand a huge transfer war chest to Avram Grant's replacement, while United and Arsenal will be formidable opponents once again.
“It's more difficult than in Spain because the top sides spend big, big money. We will try to do our best and the key for me is to not talk about the title,” he told Liverpoolfc.tv.
“The key is to be near the top, to be contenders. If we stay close then I think we are capable of doing it.
“It's more difficult because after two years of Chelsea winning the league and spending big money, United needed to do the same.
“They started spending big money and Arsenal were also spending big money on young players. We are trying to do the same but because they (Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal) are continuing to spend big money, it makes it more difficult to catch up.
“You also see Aston Villa, Newcastle, West Ham and Everton spending money and having strong teams. It's not easy to be in the top four and be contenders but because we have a young squad we can try again.”
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