New blow for United as Vidic may be out for rest of season

Scan results on captain's injured knee will be released today but club are braced for the worst

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The Independent Football

Manchester United would not discuss Nemanja Vidic's knee injury last night, as fears mounted that he has sustained cruciate ligament damage which may have ended his season.

United said that a bulletin on Vidic's right knee scan would be provided today by Sir Alex Ferguson, though the injury the player sustained in Basle does appear to be very serious. Last night's scan process was rendered difficult by bruising and swelling to the knee but the prognosis seems to be worse than first thought when Vidic was carried off the pitch in Basle shortly before half time after a challenge from Marco Streller.

Asked last night about reports that Juventus were considering a move for Vidic, Silvano Martina, one of the defender's representatives, said: "It seems inappropriate to talk about that, because unfortunately he has suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament." Asked if that meant he would be out for several months, Martina replied: "Unfortunately so, yes."

At least, unlike his central defensive partner, Rio Ferdinand did not arrive back in Manchester on crutches. Ferdinand's hurt was to pride and soul. He was not as bitterly despairing as Patrice Evra, who questioned the professionalism of United over the course of a dismal, one-geared Champions League campaign but he agreed that qualification was lost not in the 2-1 defeat in Switzerland but in two games at Old Trafford in which they had failed to beat first Basle, then Benfica.

"We didn't do as well enough at home, simple as that," he said. "The manager has always stressed you've got to do well at home. The Basle game at home, we were 2-0 up, in a commanding position and we could have been four or five up at half time. We drew 3-3. For me, that's the game I'll look at that got us knocked out.

"That's the reality of it, that's what's happened. The lads are devastated to have gone out of the tournament. We will have to look back to the games at Old Trafford when we haven't finished team off. We have not done enough to win games at home and the manager has always said that, if you don't win your home games, you don't deserve to go through. That has been the case this season."

In a grudging press conference, Ferguson had identified complacency, especially in the chaotic 3-3 home draw with the Swiss champions, as the principal reason for United's failure to qualify from the group stages.

Evra argued that the rot spread further than just one match, although Ferdinand felt the accusations of lack of professionalism were unfair. "There is no complacency at this club because the manager wouldn't stand for it, so that's way off the mark," he said.

The situation is not nearly as serious as their last failure in 2005, when they slunk back from Lisbon last in their group. Then, Chelsea were rampantly dominant and with new owners at Old Trafford even his closest friends in the media warned that he risked "being fired by fax from Florida." Instead, he and United fought back, first to win the Carling Cup in 2006, which brought him time and a platform for the three straight League titles and a second European Cup. "That's what we do at this club," Ferdinand said. "We'll rally each other, dust ourselves down and move on to the next game. That's what makes this club so great."

Channel Five?

The taunts of "Thursday nights on Five" may be hard enough to bear for both Manchester clubs but they face the possibility of having their games switched to Tuesday afternoons.

Since both Manchester City and Manchester United are seeded for the Europa League they are scheduled to play both their opening legs away on 16 February. However, because Uefa regulations forbid teams within a 31-mile radius of playing at home on the same day then one of the clubs must either give up home advantage for the second leg or kick off at 5.45pm on a Tuesday to avoid clashing with Champions League games that night.

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