Cross­ing the divide Red winger who turned blue

Rus­sian re­grets that his former club no longer play with aban­don and would pre­fer to see Guardi­ola in charge at Old Traf­ford, he tells James Ducker

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football -

There was noth­ing sub­tle about An­drei Kanchel­skis as a player. With his arms propped out on ei­ther side, as if he had a coat hanger lodged in his jer­sey, the ram­pag­ing Rus­sian winger would knock the ball past a de­fender and in­vari­ably leave them for dead with his sheer power and pace. Fancy tricks and flicks? For­get it. More than 20 years since his hey­day play­ing for Manch­ester United, though, Kanchel­skis is still go­ing for the jugu­lar.

His last ap­pear­ance at Old Traf­ford was ac­tu­ally on loan for Manch­ester City against United, a game in­fa­mous for Roy Keane’s wild tackle on Alf-inge Haa­land. But while Kanchel­skis, de­spite strad­dling the divide, is very clear that his loy­al­ties will lie with the red half of Manch­ester in Sun­day’s derby, the last player to claim a hat-trick in the fix­ture is less taken with Jose Mour­inho or his brand of foot­ball.

Kanchel­skis makes no apol­ogy for say­ing he would have pre­ferred to see the City man­ager, Pep Guardi­ola, at United, just as he ded­i­cated a sec­tion of his new au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Rus­sian Win­ters, to ar­gu­ing they erred by ap­point­ing David Moyes over Ryan Giggs in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson’s re­tire­ment. The game may have changed since Kanchel­skis claimed the last of his two back-to-back Pre­mier League ti­tles with United in 1994, but his be­lief wide play and en­ter­tain­ment go hand in hand re­mains undimmed, and he sees an ad­vo­cate of both in Guardi­ola, not Mour­inho.

“At the moment, yes,” Kanchel­skis says when asked if he would have had Guardi­ola over Mour­inho at Old Traf­ford. “Man City look a bit bet­ter – a higher level than United. United have big names, big play­ers but, look­ing at the games, City are mak­ing a bet­ter demon­stra­tion of foot­ball. An­drei Kanchel­skis is one of a se­lect band of play­ers to have rep­re­sented both Manch­ester clubs. An at­tack­ing right-sided mid­fielder, he joined United from Shakhtar Donetsk for £650,000 in March 1991 and made 123 ap­pear­ances, scor­ing 28 goals. He was a key part of the team that won the League Cup in 1992, the league ti­tle in 1993 and 1994 and the FA Cup in 1994. He was the club’s lead­ing scorer the fol­low­ing sea­son with 15 goals in 32 games. He then had spells at Ever­ton, Fiorentina and Rangers, who sent him out on loan to Manch­ester City where he made 10 ap­pear­ances, scor­ing once, in an FA Cup fifth-round de­feat at Liver­pool Manch­ester United need some­one now look­ing to play wingers. Money is not a prob­lem, so maybe look for two good wingers – left and right. Mour­inho plays more de­fen­sively. “Some games, I am not happy [watch­ing United]. It is not like we played un­der Ferguson. We al­ways played with wingers. Now it is City who play with wingers and you can see City are scor­ing a lot of goals. United need width to stretch de­fences.

“When I played, we played to en­joy games and there would be im­pro­vi­sa­tion – some­times we would play in a dif­fer­ent way. Can­tona, Gig­gsy, my­self, Mark Hughes. Now, for me, you’re look­ing at one or two good play­ers.”

It is lit­tle sur­prise, then, that Kanchel­skis looks vaguely in­cred­u­lous when asked if United’s 1994 team – “real tough b-------” as Ferguson once called them – would beat the cur­rent crop. “Yes, def­i­nitely,” he says. “No prob­lem.”

Kanchel­skis played with one of the great goal­keep­ers in Peter Sch­me­ichel but he be­lieves United are still too re­liant on David de Gea, who goes into the derby on the back of mak­ing 14 saves in last Satur­day’s 3-1 win against Arse­nal.

“Mar­cus Rash­ford is good but David De Gea is the best player,” says Kanchel­skis. “If not for De Gea, United would not be in sec­ond po­si­tion but fifth or sixth be­cause he is an ex­cep­tional goal­keeper. Like Peter Sch­me­ichel, he has helped. He is ab­so­lutely bril­liant.”

There was lit­tle doubt Kanchel­skis’s stand­out moment in a United shirt came when he scored a hat-trick against City in a 5-0 thump­ing in Novem­ber 1994 and, as he sur­veys the mod­ern-day City, it is clear the Rus­sian has dif­fi­culty as­so­ci­at­ing the club now with the one he en­coun­tered over a four­month pe­riod in 2001. Out of favour un­der Dick Ad­vo­caat at Rangers at the time, Kanchel­skis had an­swered an SOS from City man­ager Joe Royle, who had per­suaded him to join Ever­ton over Mid­dles­brough from United six years ear­lier with a pitch that in­cluded the line: “Why

Shift­ing loy­al­ties: An­drei Kanchel­skis played for both Manch­ester clubs Con­fi­dence: An­drei Kanchel­skis says his United team would beat the cur­rent one

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