Celtic boss Neil Lennon has insisted this season’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League crown means just as much as any of the titles claimed whilst battling with rivals Rangers.
The Hoops’ 4-1 win over Inverness on Sunday saw the defending champions reclaim their SPL prize with a 15-point winning margin over Motherwell and four games still to play.
But manager Lennon reacted angrily to suggestions that the absence of Rangers - demoted to the Irn-Bru Third Division after being liquidated last summer – had taken the shine off this season’s accomplishments.
He told the Scottish Sun: “It is never easy. You would denigrate what the (players) had done if you said it was easier. It was not easy at all.
“What everyone misses is that when the results come in and you have had your result, then you look over to what is happening across the road.
“But as far as we were aware or concerned, we knew what was facing us going into the season and we had to get on with it.”
The Parkhead boss admitted some fans may miss the Old Firm derbies with Rangers but rejected any suggestion that the fixtures guaranteed close championship races.
“In terms of competition, in my time this is the eighth championship we’ve won and five of those were by 17 or more points with Rangers in the league,” he said.
“The only time it is close is when it goes to the final game of the season. The fans really miss that edge between each other.”
Meanwhile, Lennon admitted he fears midfielder Victor Wanyama may leave in the summer, but told the Times only if bidding clubs offer “a lot of money”.
The Kenyan has attracted the interest of a number of high-profile clubs, including Arsenal, after a landmark season that saw him score in the club’s 2-1 Champions League win over Barcelona.
His display that November night led Lennon to insist the 21-year-old midfielder was worth £25million.