Liverpool aren't in contention for league honours this season and aren't likely to be in contention next season. Despite the occasional bout of optimism, the top four seems similarly out of reach—at least for now. Most have understood and accepted this reality for some time, but until now nobody with the club has been willing to come out and say it.
"Right now we can't compete with the big guns," said Pepe Reina, breaking the trend and offering up his harsh verdict on the gap between Liverpool and clubs like Manchesters United and City. "They have a big edge over us at the moment, both financially and squad-wise. There's a reason they are so many points ahead of us, and it's not because of one or two better players"
With Liverpool only managing a pair of draws against Arsenal and Manchester City in their past two matches, the club remains nine points back of the top four—the same gap as a week before, just with two fewer games left to make up the deficit. The gap between Liverpool and City, currently in second place, stands at 17 points. United are 26 points ahead in first.
"This has been the most unsettled season, both personally and as a team, since I joined the club," Reina added. "Liverpool is going through a transitional period, with new ideas and a different playing philosophy. That takes time.
"It's been a strange season for me because I've missed lots of games with injury. Some people say I've had a bad season, but honestly I think I only had three poor matches, at the beginning of the year."
In Reina's belief that Liverpool are more than simply a player or two away from being able to compete with the league's best, one sees hints of an impending summer departure. And perhaps it's for the best given his struggles in recent seasons and that the goalkeeper appears to have lost faith in the club's ability to return to the upper echelons of English football.
Though whether he's right to harbour such doubts may be an even more difficult—and more depressing—question for fans to contemplate than the question of what the future holds for Pepe Reina at Liverpool Football Club.