Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has warned coach Jurgen Klopp that a fourth place finish would be unacceptable this season.
BVB finished runners-up in the Bundesliga and Champions League last term, but they are suffering an injury crisis that sees five key first-team regulars sidelined and it has had an alarming effect on their fortunes.
Though the club qualified for the last-16 of Europe thanks to a dramatic final game in the group stages, their league form has been decidedly inconsistent and Watzke is eyeing an improvement on their current position.
The 54-year-old told SZ: "At the moment fourth place is acceptable, but we would not be satisfied with a fourth place finish at Borussia Dortmund. That is not our objective.
"We want to qualify directly for the Champions League, ideally, as this is not out of our reach and of course I expect us to play better in the second half of the season."
Any hope of wrestling the Bundesliga title off Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich has seemingly evaporated, with the Bavarians already 12 points clear of Dortmund at the top of the table.