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Champions League important for Ander Herrera next season

Ander Herrera has his sights set on UEFA Champions League football next season rather than personal accolades. Herrera has been named as Manchester United’s Player of the Month for April, of which he is delighted with but that was not a goal for him this season, team success is more important. Jose Mourinho’s side have two chances to achieve Champions League football next season either through their Premier League position, which took a hit with the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, not to mention the two draws against Manchester City and Swansea City before that, the other chance by winning the UEFA Europa League, of which they can earn a final berth with a victory over Celta Vigo at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. A week ago in Spain, United won 1-0 with Marcus Rashford scoring a sublime free-kick, the reverse fixture being an important one for United and their European endeavours next season.

Herrera, who was partly responsible for Arsenal’s first goal on Sunday after ducking from a Granit Xhaka long-range shot, it deflecting off him and beating compatriot David De Gea, was asked by the official Manchester United website about his teammate’s mindset ahead of this crucial match at the Theatre of Dreams, which comes before United last three Premier League matches of the season away to both Tottenham Hotspur (14th May)  and Southampton (17th May) before a final fixture at Old Trafford against Crystal Palace (21st May). The season may not end there with a possible UEFA Europa League final to be played on Wednesday 24th May in Stockholm, Sweden. Speaking about the most important thing to com out of this season, a place in the Champions League next season, Herrera said:

“The most important thing is to be in the Champions League next season; I have no doubt for this club it is very important to be in the Champions League. 

“We have two titles – the Community Shield and League Cup – and we can have a very good season if we fight for the Europa League. But we have to be very respectful because Celta are very difficult opponents overall.

“They have scored away in every game they’ve played in the competition so we have to be aware of that. They are a very good team, very dangerous when they play away and we will need our fans at home. I tell them we really need them to create a good atmosphere, a difficult atmosphere for the opponents, who can push us to be in the final. It’s not going to be easy.”

United have already won the FA Community Shield and the EFL Cup this season, with Mourinho winning a major trophy in his debut season at the club, something never done with United in the history of the club, which is an achievement in itself. That will in effect equal last season, with United ending the season by winning the Emirates FA Cup at Wembley. A UEFA Champions League place will be important for United, who finished fifth in the Premier League last season, on goal difference behind Manchester City, with a slight gap between the two clubs at this moment in time. Herrera confirmed the threat of Celta Vigo, who have lost four of their last five matches in all competitions, drawing the other, which sees them winless in five matches. The fact they can score goals will be on his teammate’s minds throughout Thursday’s match.Herrera’s award win came at the end of a month that featured nine games for United in all competitions, with his personal standout performance coming in the win over Chelsea.

Last month, United played nine matches, which is where Herrera was voted as the Player of the Month for April. His performance against Chelsea, which saw United win 2-0 with a goal and an assist for the Spanish midfielder, also marking Eden Hazard out of the game, ensuring the opposition did not get a clear shot on target during the match, which may have been seen as a turning point for the season if the results after that were much different. United have played a better standard of football this season but there is still more to do this summer to get United firing on all cylinders. During his interview with the official Manchester United website, Herrera was asked about the management of his workload during a busy period for his team, which could end with United having played seven matches in May, which could end the season in a glorious position. Herrera said:

“Physically, you try to take care of yourself and try to rest when you have time to do it properly. Eat good and just behave as a professional and be ready for every game. 

“It’s not so easy when you have to play every three to four days and we are doing that because we are playing a final and a final and a final. We want to have a successful season and this is a crucial moment of the season.”

Manchester United may be a long way from the successful period under Sir Alex Ferguson, but over the last four years, this has to be the best season going. United’s supporters are a funny bunch though, crying out for Jose Mourinho during December 2015 when he was linked to the club, with Louis van Gaal tipped by the media to be sacked, but at a certain stage this season, even those that tipped United for the top under Mourinho, turned and called for his head. Patience is something very much missing from the game these days. Instant success seems to be much more important over the building a team to challenge for a longer period of time. Some United players are out of their depth when it comes to winning, many do not seem to have that mentality anymore. This summer will be a big one for the club, as in his second season, Jose Mourinho will be expected to take on the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City to rule the Premier League once again.

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