Andrei Kanchelskis: Man Utd, Everton and Rangers Derby Hero
Andrei Kanchelskis is the Ukranian born, Russian under-the-radar conquerer of the biggest derbies in English football during the 90’s. The speedy solo-artist of a right winger played for a host of British teams, but most memorably Manchester United, Everton and Rangers. Whilst being held in the highest regard by the likes of Ryan Giggs, the now 46-year-old is remembered for being the only player in history to score in each of the Manchester, Merseyside and Glasgow derbies.
Kanchelskis first arrived on British soil when he signed for Manchester United in 1991 for just over £600,000. His first full season for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side was the ’91-92 campaign in which they finished second, 4 points behind Leeds United who had overtaken the Manchester side in the final weeks. Kanchelskis featured for most of the season on the right side of midfield. The Russian started in Manchester United’s first ever League Cup win at Wembley Stadium, vs Nottingham Forest in 1992.
After a 1992-93 campaign which saw Kanchelskis replaced by Lee Sharpe as Manchester United’s starting right winger halfway through the season, the 1993-94 double-winning season saw Kanchelskis become a starter for United again and he was duly given the number 14 shirt.
However, it was the 1994-95 season, his last at Manchester United, that Kanchelskis really showed what he was capable of. He scored 15 goals in 32 games and was United’s highest scorer. It was during this campaign, on the 10th of November 1994, that Kanchelskis wrote his name into the Manchester derby history books by scoring a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Manchester City, a team he went on to (briefly) play for in the future.
However, unfortunately for Kanchelskis, his best ever season at Manchester United was tainted by a falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson and just after the 1995-96 season had begun, Kanchelskis signed for Everton. The Toffees paid £5million for the Russian, making him their most expensive signing at the time. In hindsight, his departure from Manchester United was very significant as it ultimately paved the way for David Beckham to start his journey to becoming one of the all-time English greats.
Kanchelskis’ time at Everton was short, but sweet. In his first season at the club, he scored 16 goals and became widely regarded as one of the best wingers in the league as he guided Everton to a sixth place finish - their best in 8 years. He earned cult-hero status amongst Everton fans as a result of scoring 2 goals against fierce rivals Liverpool at Anfield in the Merseyside derby. It’s unlikely, however, that many fans were willing to cough up the £7 it cost to have his name printed on a shirt.
In the grand scheme of things, Kanchelskis’ Everton career was nothing more than a really impressive cameo as halfway through his second season, Everton sold him to Italian side Fiorentina for £8million, making a tidy £3million profit on what was a big investment. Fiorentina were the losers in the deal as Kanchelskis failed to make an impression on the Italian league.
Kanchelskis returned to Britain, namely Scotland, in 1998 when he signed for Glasgow Rangers. He played over 70 games for Rangers, but didn’t seem the same formidable wide player he had been at Manchester United and Everton. His £5million price tag was seriously questioned and was synonymous with Dick Advocaat’s big-spend trend.
However, this drop in form didn’t stop him achieving one of the greatest feats in British football. On the 26th of March 2000, Kanchelskis scored in a 4-0 Old Firm Derby win over Celtic, thus making him the only player ever to have scored in all 3 of the Manchester, Merseyside and Glasgow derbies.
Overall, Andrei Kanchelskis had a mixed career, but his achievements must not be understated. He brought pace, skill and swagger to the sides he played for and has to go down as one of the best ‘proper’ wingers English football played host to during the mid-90s. Although, it would be silly to ignore the fact that he could’ve been an even bigger and perhaps better remembered success had he stayed at one of Manchester United or Everton for a longer period of time. One of the quirkier reasons Kanchelskis is remembered by some is his brilliant standing on the ball salute whilst at Rangers. I’ll leave you with the footage of that glorious moment...