Royle proves hard to please

Sheffield Wednesday 2 Everton 5
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The Independent Online
"He's getting fitter and more accustomed to us and we are expecting a big season from him next year," was Joe Royle's verdict.

If the Everton manager does not regard Andre Kanchelskis' almost single- handed demolition of Wednesday as the finished article, he is expecting an awful lot, even if the Russian winger did cost him pounds 6m and several weeks of anguish.

Kanchelskis' first hat-trick in an Everton shirt made him the club's leading scorer, but he could easily have had two more, and he also played a part in both Everton's other goals.

It was a dazzling display of pace and power which keeps Everton in the frame for a place in Europe and frustrated Wednesday's more limited ambition of Premiership survival. They still need a point from their visit to West Ham on what could yet prove to be Bloody Sunday.

Despite the absence of Duncan Ferguson, Everton breached Wednesday's depleted back four as early as the third minute, when Kanchelskis began a move which ended with Daniel Amokachi's powerful drive squeezing in. Wednesday hauled themselves briefly back, Regi Blinker's incisive pass releasing Marc Degryse, who fed David Hirst to equalise.

But within a minute Kanchelskis' cross set up John Ebrell to restore Everton's lead. From then on, it was Russian roulette, with Kanchelskis' number coming up three times, and leaving his marker, Lee Briscoe, fresh from winning an England under 21 cap, feeling like holding the gun to his own head.

David Pleat, who is completing his first season as manager at Hillsborough, said: "When things go wrong it is natural to blame the manager. But a manager makes changes in his first season, hopes to progress in his second and win something in his third."

Sunday may determine whether he survives long enough to put that theory into practice.

Goals: Amokachi (3) 0-1; Hirst (9) 1-1; Ebbrell (10) 1-2; Kanchelskis (22) 1-3: Kanchelskis (54) 1-4; Degryse (64) 2-4; Kanchelskis (66) 2-5.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Nicol, Atherton, Walker, Briscoe; Sheridan (Waddle 50), Whittingham, Pembridge (Hyde 73), Blinker; Hirst (Donaldson 81), Degryse.

Everton (4-3-3): Southall; Hottiger, Watson, Short, Unsworth; Grant, Ebbrell, Stuart; Kanchelskis, Amokachi, Branch (Rideout h/t). Substitutes not used: O'Connor, Speare.

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).

Bookings: Sheffield Wednesday: Sheridan, Blinker; Everton: Stuart, Short.

Man of the match: Kanchelskis.

Attendance: 32,724.