Rafael Benitez is confident Liverpool can mount another Barclays Premier League title bid this season and remains calm despite his side's unconvincing start to the campaign.
Doubts have been raised over whether a sustained challenge can come from Anfield considering the team have already lost three times - one more than the whole of the previous campaign - to lie six points behind leaders Chelsea after eight games.
Benitez believes running champions and arch-rivals Manchester United close last term, finishing four points behind the Old Trafford club, has brought positives and negatives and he maintains the mounting criticism is unjustified.
"The most difficult thing this season is to manage expectation," the manager told liverpoolfc.tv.
"Last season we finished with 86 points and everyone was talking about this being the year.
"It's a long race and if we make mistakes and give up too early it will be impossible.
"So the main thing for everyone here is to try to be calm and keep working hard."
Despite those three defeats - to Tottenham, Aston Villa and Chelsea - Liverpool are a more open side this season with 22 goals in eight league matches to make them the Premier League's second-highest scorers behind Arsenal.
They have the same number of points as United had at the same stage 12 months ago and have yet to hit top form.
Defensively they have looked shaky, with just two league clean sheets compared to four from eight games last season.
However, Benitez is hopeful the return of centre-back Daniel Agger, who has not played a first-team game since the end of May after a summer back operation, and the inclusion of £20million former Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani, who is yet to make his debut after ankle surgery, will provide a boost to the squad.
"We have some players coming back from injury, so we have time," added the Spaniard.
"We need to keep the mentality, keep scoring goals and we will see."
Benitez is also confident the greater competition seen in the league this season - with the likes of Burnley beating United and Wigan defeating Chelsea - means more points will be dropped by all the leading title contenders.
"I think it will be tough at the top of the table," he added.
"Chelsea are a good team but don't forget they will lose some players at the Africa Cup of Nations (in January) so we will see.
"Everyone is talking about Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Aston Villa, so I think it could be a very open race.
"That is why my message is the same - for us to keep doing our job properly."Reuse content