Wanchope 'just great' despite the jet-lag

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The Independent Online

Paulo Wanchope had flown halfway round the world, was jet-lagged and had not slept for more than 24 hours. But the Costa Rican, who had been on World Cup duty for his country at the weekend, still turned in a man-of-the-match display to help Manchester City to their 2-1 victory at Leeds on Tuesday.

Paulo Wanchope had flown halfway round the world, was jet-lagged and had not slept for more than 24 hours. But the Costa Rican, who had been on World Cup duty for his country at the weekend, still turned in a man-of-the-match display to help Manchester City to their 2-1 victory at Leeds on Tuesday.

City's £3.65m buy from West Ham won the praise of his manager, Joe Royle, and his colleagues for his tireless lone battle up front against Lucas Radebe and Michael Duberry as his team-mates fought to hold on to their lead.

"It had been a long trip and I didn't get back to Manchester until lunch-time before the match," Wanchope said. "I did try to get some sleep in the afternoon, but it was hopeless, I just couldn't get any rest. It's not the perfect way to prepare for a match as big as one at Leeds, but once I got out there I just felt great. I was very, very tired after the game, all the travelling and jet-lag had caught up on me by then.

"Once the game got started I forgot all about the jet-lag, the whole team played well and we picked up three very good points. You don't feel tired when that is happening."

For City it was a great victory after a shaky start to their Premiership campaign, and was arguably their best league success since the 1-0 win at Leeds on 2 December 1995 in the season they were relegated from the top flight.

Steve Howey, who scored the opening goal, was also full of praise for Wanchope's display. "He was immense. He's one of these players who can infuriate you or just astound you," Howey said. "This time he was absolutely magnificent. The lads want him to be sent to Costa Rica every week if he comes back playing like that."

Manchester United's Nicky Butt used a starting appearance in his side's 6-0 thrashing of Bradford City the same evening to reinforce his claims that he never wants to leave Old Trafford, although he admits he becomes frustrated when he has to be understudy to Paul Scholes and Roy Keane in the battle for places in the middle of the pitch.

"I would love to stay at Manchester United," Butt said. "It's my city and I call them my team. I've been here since I was 13 and I was a Manchester United fan before that.

"Hopefully I will stay here for the rest of my career, but you never know what can happen in football. I want to stay here as long as I can and that's my aim.

"My hunger is very strong and I never made anything clear about wanting to leave or anything like that. I'm prepared to fight for my place. I know that will be difficult with the players around, but I mean it when I say I'm happy here.

"I'm a Manchester lad and I never want to leave. I know it's going to be a long, hard battle to get games and get my fitness up and try and prove to the manager the type of player I can be."

The 25-year-old midfielder believes his career has stagnated for the last 18 months and during that time he has drifted out of the England picture.

Even though he made 41 appearances for United last season, which was just four fewer than Keane and Scholes, he feels he has not had a long enough run in the side.

Butt played on Tuesday because Keane had started a three-match suspension. He will continue at the heart of midfield in Saturday's home game with Sunderland, but the United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, will have to make his selection without Jaap Stam, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, and Dwight Yorke, who has returned from international duty with a tight hamstring.

One piece of good news for Ferguson on the injury front is that Denis Irwin should be back after his ankle problem.

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