CELTIC boss Neil Lennon has admitted his title winners had no “credible” opponent in this season’s Scottish Premiership title race.
The Bhoys clinched a third successive league triumph in midweek with seven games still to play as Old Firm rivals Rangers continue to work their way back up the league pyramid.
Lennon is eagerly anticipating the renewal of local hostilities, but in the meantime will simply concentrate on improving his team.
He told the BBC’s Football Focus: “People are saying it’s not the same, the competition is less. The competition is there but it’s a fact that Rangers aren’t there, that we don’t really have, what you would say, a credible opponent at the minute.
“But we can’t do anything about that. We just have to keep improving, keep progressing the players and keep being successful. And Rangers will be back, there’s no question about that.”
One area in which Lennon is determined to improve is Europe, where Celtic bowed out of the Champions League after the group stage having won just one of their six games, a far cry from their heroics 12 months earlier.
He said: “For me, it was always going to be more or less impossible to emulate what we did last season.
“Qualification is paramount to us every year and it’s a huge incentive for me because I want us to be playing Champions League football every year.
“Now, the bar was set high last year, not so high this year, so there’s a big area to improve on and that’s a real motivation for us.”
Lennon’s success in Scotland has led to speculation that he could return south of the border one day to manage in England, although he insists he is happy with his current lot.
He said: “You never say never, but that prospect has never materialised.
“I am in a privileged position here - being a manager anywhere is a privileged position, but at a club the stock that this has... I just thank my lucky stars that I am where I am at the minute.”