Liverpool owner John W Henry has admitted the club are "years behind" their rivals and it is too soon to think about a challenge for the Barclays Premier League title as they focus on a top-four finish.
Optimism is high amongst Reds fans at the start of the first full season of Kenny Dalglish's second spell in charge, and many have pointed to their form over the second half of last season to suggest they could be outsiders for the title.
But Henry is taking a more cautious approach, and told the Daily Telegraph: "Manchester United has done an incredible job of building a young, talented, deep squad I watched a number of their pre-season matches and they seemed in top form even then. We've just begun to build and are years behind them so we don't expect this to be our year to win the Premier League."
He added: "Manchester City seem to have unlimited spending restraint and want all-star quality at each position. That will be hard to beat. This year our goal is to get back to the Champions League.
"But it won't be at all easy and no one is expecting that, as there are six big clubs - among the best in Europe - fighting for four spots."
Henry, schooled in the American sporting system of player trades as an owner of the Boston Red Sox, admits football's transfer system came as a "shock" to him but says he is getting used to it.
Liverpool have raised eyebrows since Henry arrived with big money deals to bring in the likes of Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson, but Henry rejects the idea they have overspent, particularly on the £35million Carroll and £20m Henderson.
"Everyone seemed to think that Liverpool was over-valuing British players this summer," he said.
"But when the Premier League has the whole world to choose players from and there is a substantial homegrown rule, British players are going to be highly valued.
"Look at the prices paid this year for (Connor) Wickham and (Alex) Chamberlain. At Liverpool we have purchased each player for a different reason and are headed in a different direction."
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