Martin O'Neill has admitted Aston Villa "won't be able to compete financially" with the big four clubs in the Barclays Premier League.
But the Villa manager insists he is still driven on to succeed and to overcome that disadvantage.
"We won't be able to compete financially. We are trying to run this as a business at this minute. That is difficult, especially in this day and age," he said.
"It is a tough old business. Financially it is tough out there - and we are not going to be running this club in the manner of some other clubs.
"But I think that is part of the excitement of it all. You have to try and find other ways to compete. I don't think we'll ever be up there in finance terms but it doesn't mean you cannot compete in other ways."
Villa have been in the top six virtually all season and were in strong contention for a Champions League spot until a recent poor run of results left them trailing Arsenal by seven points.
O'Neill added "We have been up there all season, never out of the top six.
"But we are in the same league as Manchester United, who have gates of 75,000 and are a different entity. We are in there against Arsenal, who house 60,000 fans every home game.
"Then we are against the other two (Liverpool and Chelsea), who have our sort of gates but not only have the experience behind them but a lot of money to go at it as well."
O'Neill is also adamant he would not pay grossly-inflated transfer fees to bring players to Villa Park.
He said: "I don't mind paying over the odds for some player but, if some player was worth Â£7million and I was told you'd have to pay Â£15million, I couldn't do so.
"However, if I thought someone was worth it in the long term, like an Ashley Young, then I'd pay a bit over the top."
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