Singapore - Liverpool face a stiff challenge to break back into the top four of the English Premier League, Dirk Kuyt admitted on Sunday, while singling out big-money signing Stewart Downing for praise.
Speaking in Singapore as part of an Asian tour by the Reds, the Dutchman, who could see his chances limited in a new-look midfield, said: "I think we had a disappointing season last season... sixth isn't good enough for us.
"It will be a challenge to reach the Champions League spot because these days we don't have the top four any more, we have the likes of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur as well."
However, the forward said he was "very positive" that Liverpool would be able to secure a place back in the Champions League after manager Kenny Dalglish splashed out on several new signings.
"The way we played, especially the second half of the season, was promising... A few new players came in so that's very positive, so everyone wants to push harder than last season," he said.
Midfielders Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Downing have all been brought in, but it was England winger Downing, who cost the Reds a reported 20 million pounds from Aston Villa, that Kuyt is excited about.
"He's a real good wing player with a fantastic cross and he can also score goals so I'm very glad we have a player like him now in our squad," said Kuyt.
The 30-year-old Dutch international shrugged off the competition for places.
"I'm pleased that we have this kind of players in the squad now, I think it's normal for a club like Liverpool that there's competition and the Premier League is a very hard league," he said.
"There are a lot of games to play for and its impossible to do with 11 people so we need a big strong squad and I think the players who just arrived, they are very welcome for us and I think we needed them."
Kuyt said he enjoyed working with Dalglish, who returned to Anfield in January after a string of poor results forced out Rafael Benitez and Roy Hodgson.
"I think the best thing about the manager is that he's always himself and he's always trying to help people," said Kuyt.
"Even if it's private-based or just in between the lines he's just always trying to help you with his experience and that's very helpful for us."