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CZECH MATES; Forget Kanchelskis - Karel's the best right winger in the business; Says Slavia Prague coach FRANTISEK CIPRO.

The Czech boss who cashed in on Karel Poborsky last night rubbished Manchester United defector Andrei Kanchelskis and boldly predicted:

"Karel's in a different class - in two years time he'll have Eric Cantona status at Old Trafford."

Slavia Prague coach Frantisek Cipro made his startling outburst as United prepared to face Rapid Vienna in a European Champions' League clash they have to win.

Cipro was forced to sell Poborsky for pounds 3.6 million and he reckons United got themselves Europe's best right winger.

And he's convinced that the odd-Pob man will bury the ghost of Kanchelskis and establish himself as one of Fergie's most sensational signings.

Says Cipro: "From what I've seen and heard already Karel's shown a few flashes of what he can do, but the United coaches and fans have really seen nothing yet.

"He has barely dipped into his repertoire of skills and I can promise when he does that they will see something special.

"I know Ferguson was desperate to sign Karel to finally replace Kanchelskis but believe me it is not swapping one player for another.

"Kanchelskis is a good player but Karel is so much better and I think their performances during Euro 96 reflected that.

"Can you tell me what Kanchelskis did? I cannot remember but I have vivid memories of Karel's contribution and his wonderful goal against Portugal."

Losing Kanchelskis came as a hammer blow to Old Trafford and Fergie spent nearly a year scouring every corner of Europe for a replacement.

Up popped Poborsky and Cipro reckons United struck pure gold.

While Kanchelskis has misfired this season Poborsky has already stirred United's imagination.

Adds Cipro: "Karel is a more complete player and I can already detect signs that he has struck an understanding with Cantona.

"His pace, reading of the game and running off the ball will suit Cantona's vision and that's why he's so much more than just a winger."

Poborsky cuts a figure tailor-made for the terrace bully boys with a girl's name, head band to keep his long mane under control and a hunched style that belies his fearsome pace.

Opposition fans have already taunted him for his gypsy appearance - but the man they call the Express Train has mown down the critics.

Even roughing him up on the pitch can't dull his sparky style either. And that's silenced those who thought he'd literally be a pushover in the Premiership.

Says Cipro: "I heard people were questioning his durability but Karel's a tough lad. He can take a kick but I think Ferguson was worried about how he would adapt.

"I was surprised Karel wasn't thrown into United's team immediately but Ferguson has no need to be protective towards Poborsky.

"He played 42 games for Prague last season and if you count internationals before and during Euro 96 the total was around 50 and that's not bad for any top player.

"He is just the type that United will need in the Champions' League.

"From what I saw Karel did not play well against Juventus in Turin but as a team United failed to function. I still think United will still qualify from that group.

"I know Poborsky has the ability to stamp his mark on Europe but to do that United's other players must know his capabilities and that's why I hope Ferguson keeps him in the team.

"I know United have a big pool of players but Poborsky can be as inspirational to them as Cantona.

"He played 26 League games for Slavia last season but he still managed 11 goals and I know once he has settled in Manchester he will be more of an influence than Kanchelskis ever was."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Bates, Steve
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Sep 22, 1996
Words:616
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