Man United's Ander Herrera not getting complacent about Celta Vigo

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera has warned his teammates not to look past Thursday's Europa League opponents Celta Vigo.

United go into their semifinal tie as favourites ahead of Celta, who currently sit in 11th position in the La Liga table.

Herrera has likened the Spanish side to the Athletic Bilbao team he played at under Marcelo Bielsa -- one that won 3-2 at United five years ago in the Europa League.

Herrera, who joined United from Athletic in the summer of 2014, told Onda Cero: "Celta is a very complicated team, with players that have a lot of quality. In theory, we are the strongest team left in the competition but we have to respect all of our rivals because otherwise, they can surprise us. My teammates ask me about Celta because a lot is at stake for us in this tie. I tell them to remember that Athletic side that won at Old Trafford because it's very similar."

Celta, coached by Eduardo Berizzo, have reached their first major European semifinal and host United at Balaidos this week before travelling to Old Trafford on May 11 for the return leg.

"They have a coach who is more or less from the same school, what [former Athletic boss] Marcelo Bielsa was is what Berizzo is," Herrera said. "They are an attack-minded side, one that doesn't speculate."

Celta eliminated Ukrainian team Shakhtar Donetsk and Russian side Krasnodar before advancing past Genk of Belgium last month to reach the last four of the Europa League with a 4-3 aggregate win.

"It doesn't matter whether they play at home or away, they always attack," Herrera said. "It's a very dangerous side. They like to have possession and they rely on high pressing. It's a team that makes life difficult for you and they have good quality players like [Iago] Aspas."

Former Liverpool striker Aspas is Celta's leading scorer with 24 goals in all competitions this season, including five in the Europa League.

Herrera's father, Pedro Herrera Sancristobal, played for Celta, and the midfielder said: "It's true and many of my teammates don't know that. My father played for Celta and then he worked for the club for several years [once he retired]. I was very young then. Of course I have a lot of sympathy for Celta, we have a lot of friends in Vigo."

Winning the Europa League would guarantee Jose Mourinho's side a spot in the Champions League next season.

"It's crucial for us," Herrera said. "Not just because it's a European title, which is important but also the fact that you can qualify for the Champions League and play in a European Super Cup final. There are many positives to gain from winning the competition. We've already won two titles this season, the Community Shield after beating Leicester City and the EFL Cup against Southampton."

United are fifth in the Premier League and would also qualify for Europe's elite club competition with a top-three finish. If they were to finish fourth, they would go into the qualifying round for the Champions League.

Herrera says Mourinho has been very good for his career.

"Mourinho is a winner, he is very competitive," the 27-year-old said. "He demands 100 percent from his players. He gives you all the confidence in the world from the first day. I've improved as a player with him and I'm very grateful for that."

Herrera has done so well that he thinks he is playing the best football of his career. The midfielder has started in 41 games in all competitions for United this season, including 26 in the Premier League.

"I hope there will be better times in the future, too, but I think it's the best time of my career," he said. "I'm more consistent, I feel an important member in the team. I know the coach considers me an important player. I'm enjoying myself and I feel loved."

Herrera appears to have won the United fans over with his strong performances -- a recent poll conducted by Football FanCast's United readers saw Herrera gain 93 percent of the votes to become United captain next season. Veteran skipper Wayne Rooney could reportedly leave the club this summer.

"I'm honoured, very touched and surprised," Herrera said of the poll results. "I didn't expect it. We don't know what is going to happen with Rooney but in any case, I don't see this [captaincy] happening soon. There are other players that have been longer at the club and that has to be respected. United have had great captains."