Sir Alex and Queiroz charged
Reds boss Sir Alex Ferguson and his assistant, Carlos Queiroz, have been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association.
The charges relate to comments made after United's 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Portsmouth at Old Trafford last month.
United were aggrieved that referee Martin Atkinson did not award a penalty for what the Reds saw as a clear foul on Cristiano Ronaldo by Sylvain Distin.
There were further fouls on Ronaldo that the United boss and his no.2 felt were not dealt with sufficiently by the officials.
A statement on the FA's website said: "Ferguson's charge concerns comments about referee Martin Atkinson and PGMO General Manager Keith Hackett. Queiroz's charge relates to comments about referee Martin Atkinson."
Sir Alex and Queiroz now have until 17 April to respond to the disciplinary charges.
Vidic out for 2-3 weeks
Nemanja Vidic has been ruled out for two or three weeks with a knee injury.
The Serbian centre-back, who fell awkwardly after an aerial challenge against Roma, came off after just 31 minutes of Tuesday's 2-0 quarter final first-leg win.
He was sent for a scan on Wednesday, the results of which showed the injury not to be serious.
A club spokesperson told ManUtd.com: "There is no major damage to the left knee, and Nemanja will be out for around 2 or 3 weeks."
Vidic will therefore miss the Premier League matches against Middlesbrough and Arsenal and Wednesday's Champions League quarter final second leg clash with Roma.
He could return to face Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on 19 April, and will certainly hope to be involved should United reach the Champions League semi finals, before the Reds visit Chelsea on 26 April.
Ronny does the double
Cristiano Ronaldo has been voted ManUtd.com's Player of the Month for March and also picked up the Man of the Match award against AS Roma.
The 23-year-old winger was in sparkling form once again last month, scoring six goals in six starts. But he was up against stiff competition for the official website's monthly accolade. Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez have all been consistently good in recent weeks.
Tevez ran Ronaldo closest for the title. The striker scored only once in March (against Aston Villa), but his energy and selfless hard-working attitude have endeared him to Reds supporters. However, it was Ronaldo who ran away with the result, notching a colossal 48% of the vote.
And the Portuguese winger began April exactly where he left off in March. Ronaldo put the Reds in front against Roma on Tuesday just before half-time with a towering, powerful header. His performance, as a lone striker for much of the match, has given United an excellent chance of making the semi finals for a second year running.
Defence on for record
dun think we will break or hold the recordUnited's entertaining attacking football has won plenty of plaudits this season, but the Reds' impressive defensive record should not be overlooked or undervalued.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men are on course to record their leanest Premier League campaign in terms of goals conceded.
The Reds have conceded just 15 in the league this term and, amazingly, on just five occasions at Old Trafford - Manchester City (2), Everton, Derby, and this weekend's opponents at the Riverside, Middlesbrough.
It's a proud record that has been equally as influential as United's attacking exploits in firing the Reds to the top of the Premier League.
Chelsea should hang on to their record though, with just 15 goals conceded when they won the title in season 2004/05.
That topped Arsenal's previous Premier League record of conceding just 17 goals in a league campaign.
United's best previous attempt came in season 1997/98, leaking 25 goals. With six games to go, the Reds will surely beat that tally, and it could be crucial if United are to retain the title.
Yeah boro is a weird team. Against bigger clubs, they kee form. I think Fergie will rest a few players against boro and rest somemore against Roma.
Match Pack: Middlesbrough
It's to the Riverside on Sunday, as United continue the title charge. But with three draws in six past meetings, Middlesbrough pose a potential pitfall...
Form guide: United are unbeaten in five matches, scoring 12 goals and conceding none. Middlesbrough have won only once in their last five league games, but that does include a 1-1 draw with Arsenal and a 1-0 defeat against Chelsea that the Blues were lucky to win.
Ins and outs: Mido was this week ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing a hernia operation, while Roberth Huth (ankle) is a doubt. Nemanja Vidic (knee) is out for the next 2-3 weeks, while Darren Fletcher (knee) and Nani (thigh) are also missing.
Star men: Brazilian forward Alfonso Alves is yet to score for Boro, but he struck the woodwork twice against Chelsea and looked very dangerous. Sanli Tuncay is also dangerous having scored against Liverpool and Arsenal this term. For United, Rooney has scored three goals in two games, while Cristiano Ronaldo has a history of causing Boro bother.
Rivals watch: Arsenal v Liverpool (Sat 12:45 BST), Man City v Chelsea (15:00 BST)
Reds captain returns
Gary Neville is in contention to travel with a 20-man first-team squad for the Reds’ trip to Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Club captain Neville hasn’t featured for Sir Alex’s side since March 2007, when an injury against Bolton Wanderers forced him from the field. Neville was plagued by further bad luck when the 33-year-old suffered a series of minor knocks during the recovery process.
A knee Injury and a subsequent three-week lay-off rules Nemanja Vidic out, but it could open up a route back into the first-team for Neville.
“It’s been over a year since Gary’s last game,” Sir Alex told the press on Friday. “That isn’t easy at his age but what always encouraged us was his enthusiasm to return.
"Nemanja's injury is a loss, but we hope to have him back in three weeks. I think we can cope. We've got Mikael Silvetre and Gary Neville back. To have those personalities and experienced players back in the squad can only help us.There's also Gerard Pique, John O'Shea and Wes Brown. So we're very well covered in that position. If we can't cope, there's something wrong."
Neville has impressed in a number of outings for the Reserves in recent weeks, most recently in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle United. Now the skipper will return to the North East for the second time in a week as the Reds look to take three vital points off Gareth Southgate’s side.
United will be without winger Nani for the trip to Teesside. The Portuguese winger is still recovering from a thigh strain. "Nani is still not 100%," added Sir Alex. "I'm sure he'll be fit for Wednesday against Roma."
Under starter's orders
It may be Grand National weekend, but the title race is a course Sir Alex Ferguson knows better than any other. But even with the finish line in sight, the Reds boss has warned his players of the hurdles that lie ahead.
Each of United’s remaining six matches could be pivotal, a chance to take a step closer to a 17th league success – just one behind Liverpool – or the opportunity to stumble and allow Chelsea and Arsenal to make up ground.
Sunday’s trip to Middlesbrough is one of four remaining away matches, which could hold the key to clinching a tenth Premier League crown.
“All the games are important now,” said Sir Alex. “We’re at the stage of the season where you could class every game as a decider.
“We’ve only got two home games left. We’ve got to go to Middlesbrough, Blackburn, Chelsea and Wigan. So, on the balance of that we have to make sure our away form stays strong.
“We’re approaching the finish line and there’s not long to go now. But sometimes it feels like a lifetime away. The nerves and form can play a part. You can get a shock result. We just have to make sure our form remains consistent.”
United travel to the Riverside on Sunday knowing that Boro have one win and three draws in the last seven meetings between the two sides. Gareth Southgate’s men were unlucky to lose 1-0 against Chelsea last weekend, a serious warning sign for the Reds.
“We watched the video of Middlesbrough’s defeat to Chelsea, and there is no question they should have got a result,” said Sir Alex. “But this is a different game. It’s at Boro’s ground, and we just have to make sure we’re at our best.”
The United boss will be without Nemanja Vidic – a pillar of strength all season alongside Rio Ferdinand – but he insists he has the squad to cope. The defence will need to, as Sir Alex sees the back four and goalkeeper as critical to United’s title hopes.
“If you defend well, you can win trophies. If we keep defending the way we are then we have the forwards to capitalise on that. What we’re seeing now is good team performances. Everyone is performing right throughout the side. We have to maintain that.”
Carry on Ronaldo
Sir Alex Ferguson has defended Cristiano Ronaldo’s showmanship and insists the Portuguese winger would never disrespect his opponents.
Roma’s combative midfielder David Pizarro claimed the United star is “arrogant”. He was quoted in the English press, saying: "Despite the fact that he is a great champion, he is arrogant. This is the ugliest thing for a player. In the return leg, I will have something to say to him."
Sir Alex, who pointed out that the player’s comments may have been lost in translation and wasn’t responding to be antagonistic, feels that Ronaldo’s flicks and tricks should be understood as an expression of talent rather than needless flamboyance. The same way a quick player uses his pace to the fullest, or a tough-tackling midfielder won’t pull out of a 50-50 challenge. Ronaldo’s skill is the only way he knows how to play.
“He just tries to express his talent,” said Sir Alex. “The boy has the confidence and courage to do it. As far as I am concerned, he can carry on doing that. That’s why people pay £40-£50 to see him play. It may be annoying to an opponent because he’s prepared to take the ball to them and show his talent.
“At the end of the day he is a winner. You can’t kick him out of the game because he will always get up and play. The most important message he is giving out is that this is a great player that isn’t afraid to take the ball and beat men. That’s what he’s saying. And in whatever fashion he does it, I don’t care. It’s about having the ability and expression in his play to be able to do it. We encourage it with all the players. In the modern day it’s a breath of fresh air to see players that won’t be intimidated by opponents. Keep on doing it.”
Ronaldo’s fellow countryman, Nani, was accused by Arsene Wenger of disrespecting Arsenal’s players by juggling with the ball. At the time, Sir Alex sympathised with Wenger but has since said there was nothing wrong with it.
“I looked at the video again, and I don’t see that Nani was showboating,” said the Reds boss. “He was under pressure and he kept the ball up. I’ve seen many players that do that. I saw Thierry Henry do it against Southampton in a cup final if I remember correctly. We don’t encourage our players to humiliate opponents. That’s important to say. But fans want to see players show talent like his. It’s great to see players developing their game so that they can use skill in a big game.”