Neil Lennon put Celtic’s Champions League exploits into context following the Hoops’ exit in the last 16 of the competition after a 2-0 defeat to Juventus in Turin last night.
The Serie A leaders took what turned out to be an unassailable three-goal lead from the first leg into the game and any slim hopes of a Hoops comeback ended in the 24th minute when Alessandro Matri opened the scoring from close range.
Fabio Quagliarella notched the second in the 65th minute as the spirited Parkhead men were again punished heavily for a lack of concentration.
The Parkhead boss was asked if playing in the SPL was a handicap when it came to the business end of the competition and he replied: “The handicap that we have is that we are probably £100million behind most of the other squads in the last 16 of the Champions League.
“We have proved that you can play in the SPL and compete in the Champions League this season, the difference is the bigger clubs have significantly more spending power, and stronger squads.
“You just have to look at Juve’s bench last night, how strong it was.
“So there is no disgrace in being short. Juventus have a great work ethic, they might not have the flamboyance of Barcelona but they work so hard for each other and they have a threat going forward.
“While I hope the players learn we won’t know until we come back into the competition next July.
“But it is going to be very difficult (to keep them). Some of them want to progress their careers, maybe out of Scotland and it is difficult to stop that progression.
“We are doing our job, bringing these young players in and developing them and hopefully selling them on for significantly more than we brought them in for, but we will have a look at the end of the season.”
The Northern Irishman believes the difference in “quality” was the difference over the two legs.
He said: “The difference is quality in the final third. We had good chances again but we didn’t take them.
“We played really good football, had good spells in either half and we missed what I think were very good chances to get back into the tie.
“The difference is quality, quality counts and that was the difference between the two teams over both games.”