Kanchelskis to make debut for Everton

Guy Hodgson looks forward to the weekend's action in the Premiership
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The Independent Online
Hundreds of parents in Merseyside exhaled a sigh of relief yesterday when they learned that the Everton shirts they had bought for their children were not going to be obsolete. After a month of protracted, and occasionally, acrimonious, negotiations Andrei Kanchelskis completed his move from Manchester United.

The Russian international winger will make his debut this afternoon at home to Southampton after Everton and United came to a compromise over the money due to Kanchelskis's previous club, Shakhtyor Donetsk. The original fee was pounds 5m but the Goodison club have now agreed to pay half the money - up to pounds 550,000 - due to the Ukrainians.

"It must be the longest transfer in the history of football," Joe Royle, the Everton manager, said. "It's a pity he missed our games so far but he's here now and hopefully we can get our first win with Andrei."

Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, was talking tongue in cheek when he greeted his side's victory over West Ham this week with: "The crisis can move elsewhere." But for some managers the words will carry some poignancy.

"You need a win," said Alan Ball, the Manchester City manager, whose side visit Queen's Park Rangers today with the relative wealth of a single point. "The longer it goes without one, people start to get uptight."

Ball stressed that neither he nor his players were searching for tranquillisers yet, but you suspect that a discreet check of the bathroom cabinet might be in order if City fail against QPR, who like Bolton, West Ham, and Southampton are pointless.

Wimbledon, meanwhile, go to Old Trafford in an unaccustomed position of strength. No doubt their manager, Joe Kinnear, will play up the Pygmies against giants line, but it will not sit wholly comfortably with their record of maximum points and six goals in two matches.

"We won't underestimate them that's for sure," Ferguson said. "It doesn't matter where they are they have a go. If you look at their pool they have a lot of experience - there were 10 players outside their team in midweek who have played for the first team. It's amazing considering the number they have let go."

Newcastle are among those who have helped refurbish the Wimbledon coffers and they conform to the rule that the Londoners repeatedly confound: the more money you have the more success you will get. They travel to Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow with two wins out of two and their manager, Kevin Keegan, talking bullishly.

"People keep reminding me that we had six wins at the start of last season," he said, "but I don't think there's any comparison with the squad we've got now. We've four new players and I think we can get better. We might not have as good a start as last time but we might have a better finish."

Even so Newcastle could be the only Premiership team with an unblemished record tonight as the other two teams with maximum points, Leeds and Aston Villa, meet at Elland Road. "Ask me after 10 games and you'll get quarter of an answer," the Leeds manager, Howard Wilkinson, replied when he was asked this week about whether he was happy with the start. "After 20 games you'll get half."

Nevertheless you might see half a smile on Wilkinson's face if they win today.