Carragher targets league title
Jamie Carragher has insisted last season's Premier League campaign has given Liverpool the belief that they are now within touching distance of ending their 19-year domestic title drought. Perennially tipped as genuine challengers, the Reds have often flattered to deceive over the past two decades.
But last season's 86-point haul - their highest total in the Premier League era - which included a double over eventual champions Manchester United, has injected a real sense of optimism around Merseyside that Rafa Benitez's men can finish top of the pile for the first time since 1990.
"We had a very good season in the league last year but we realise that if we can improve that by one or two per cent that may be enough. That's what we're trying to do," Carragher said.
"We took Manchester United very close last year, and we realise them and also Chelsea will come back and maybe Manchester City as well, so there's a lot of competition. Hopefully during the pre-season games we can improve and make sure we're ready for Tottenham (Hotspur, Liverpool's first opponents in the 2009/10 Premier League) and go one step further than we did last year."
In order to accomplish that, Benitez will need to keep his squad largely intact, but his resolve has already been tested by Real Madrid's pursuit of key midfielder Xabi Alonso.
While a sizeable fee would no doubt increase the Reds' spending power this summer, Benitez refused to be drawn on Alonso's long-term future, only confirming the 27-year-old is part of the squad that will face Thailand in Bangkok on Wednesday, before moving on to Singapore on 26 July.