WHAT A PLONKER
MANCHESTER United supremo Alex Ferguson has slammed Chelsea's wise-cracking skipper in a war of words over the FA Cup.
Stamford Bridge imp Dennis Wise told a live television audience that the Old Trafford men would be 'disappointed' to be travelling to London to face his side in the third-round clash on January 4.
But Fergie has hit back with all guns blazing, promising that Wise and his team will pay for his on-air remarks.
Ferguson said: 'Our record against Chelsea speaks for itself.
'I have never lost a Cup tie against Chelsea and I maintain this is a great draw for us.
'In '87-88 we won 2-0 against them at Old Trafford. We beat them in the semi-final in '96 and in the final two years earlier.
'We will genuinely have no problems taking on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. This is the sort of tie we just love. It is an early chance to get one of the favourites out of the way.
'It is a truly terrific tie for us. They are a good side and we know that and it should be a smashing game ? and there will only be one winner.' Wise had a dig at United on television saying: 'We have always done well against them and it's at home, which is good.
'United will be a little disappointed. At least one of the big sides will be going out.' The Chelsea skipper has a history of antagonism with the United camp and this latest spat is sure to add fuel to the flames of passion on January 4.
The FA have scheduled the Stamford Bridge match as a morning kick-off with the Everton v Newcastle match being played in the afternnon for the benefit of television.
The Tottenham v Fulham tie will be played with an eveing kick-off on Monday, January 5.
Chelsea are determined to retain the trophy and Wise added: 'We are looking to hold on to the FA Cup and to do that you have to win right up to and including the final.
'The good teams have to be beaten as well as so-called lesser teams. United know what to expect at Stamford Bridge.' Those Wise words may be ill-timed.
Since Ferguson took over at Old Trafford 11 years ago, his sides have lost just three times in 10 games at Stamford Bridge.
Yet those remarks from the Chelsea captain would have rung true if the tie had been scheduled for Old Trafford.
No English team can rival the kind of success Chelsea have en-joyed on their trips to Manchester in recent years.
United have only defeated the Stamford Bridge men twice on home soil during the past 32 years.
With passion flowing weeks before the FA Cup clash, Ferguson also threw out a challenge to the chasing pack in the Premier League ? saying that he wants to wrap up the title by the end of March.
Now clear of Champions' League commitments until the third month of the New Year, the Old Trafford boss is looking to put together an unbeaten run of league games until then ? effectively blowing away any title contenders.
' We had an unbeaten run of 16 games last year and that lay down the foundation for our title win.
'I want to do the same this time round and have the club in the driving seat in the Premier League before we have to go back into the European arena.
'I think we can do it with a little luck and staying clear of serious injuries and suspensions,' Ferguson said.