lFrom back page
competition that becomes far more prestigious at United’s current level and provides major cash incentives for a club facing another round of wage issues in the January window.
Oxford, seventh in League Two, are dangerous opponents who will not be under-estimated by anyone at Bramall Lane.
lThe Cup brings a great flashback to the time of Dave Bassett - once Wilder’s boss at the Blades - and Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25 years at Manchester United all rolled into one.
The time was January, 1995 ahead of Manchester United visiting Bramall Lane in the FA Cup. . .and the row erupted from national newspaper preview coverage that this reporter, as a freelance writer, was party to.
Bassett now tells me: “I’ve always got on with Alex over the years but there was this was one time when he went raving mad at me - all over a misunderstanding.
“Before the game you press boys had asked me whether we could put Alex’s players under pressure a bit and maybe even intimidate them.
“I said: ‘Are you xxxxxx joking? Look, they’ve got Keane, Hughes, Scholes, Cantona - not to mention Steve Bruce. They’re not exactly a bunch of wimps, are they?’
“I made the point that United could look after themselves and at the time I thought I was bumming them up. But the headlines before the game said I’d branded them as ‘hard men.’.
“So when Alex phoned me on the morning of the game I thought he was just wanting tickets. Then he went absolutely xxxxing mad. He was ranting and raving and said I’d accused his team of being dirty and that I was playing mind games. I tried to explain, but he was seething and put the phone down.
“Well, United beat us and Alex came into my office for a drink after the game. By then he’d calmed down. I was able to explain that I was being complimentary in that he had players who could battle as well as play. He was as good as gold after that.
“And that’s the only time we’ve had an altercation.
“Alex was good enough to present me with a trophy after I’d achieved 1,000 games as a manager. His career has been phenomenal and we will never see the likes of him again.”