Alex Ferguson - never one to keep his opinions to himself [AFP]

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has been charged with improper conduct by the English Football Association on Friday following comments about referee Howard Webb.

Ferguson's comments came before last weekend's virtual English Premier League title-decider game against Chelsea and contravened FA rules about speaking on referees in the build-up to matches.

The charge comes only two months after Ferguson received a five-match touchline ban for talking about another referee after United's defeat at Chelsea in March.

'Best man'

In the build-up to the game against London side Chelsea, Ferguson told a media conference that he thought Webb - who refereed last year's World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands - was "the best man for the job.''

"He's definitely the best referee in the country, there is no doubt about that," Ferguson said.

"I think we're getting the best referee. We hope it's our turn for a little bit of luck."

That was in violation of the Football Association's rules that states managers shouldn't speak at all about a referee in advance of a match being played.

United beat Chelsea 2-1 at Old Trafford to move to within a point of winning the Premier League for a record 19th time.

Ferguson has until Monday afternoon to respond to the charge.

It is the second time this season that Ferguson has landed himself in trouble with English football's governing body for speaking out of turn about referees.

He received a three-match suspension in March for criticising the performance of referee Martin Atkinson in the immediate aftermath of United's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea won that match 2-1.

Two matches were added to that sanction because of a previous suspended sentence hanging over him, resulting in Ferguson serving a five-match touchline ban.

The suspended sentence stemmed from Ferguson questioning the fitness of referee Alan Wiley after a match last season.

Title decider

News of the fresh disciplinary proceedings against Ferguson came as United prepared to clinch a record 19th league title against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

Ferguson believes his double-chasing squad are reaching their peak in the closing stages of the season thanks to the return of his injured players.

The Scot has a fully-fit squad to choose from and he says he has benefited from such a luxury.

"What's helped us lately is the freshness of players coming back," he said.

"(Antonio) Valencia and Ji-Sung Park are two that have come back. Anderson is another. There has been a lot of added impetus at an important time.

"Valencia's form has been terrific, Park has been doing a magnificent job and Anderson has been doing really well. It's been a real boost to us."

Source: Agencies