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Manchester City
Posted by Wallace Poulter on 08/15/2011

Sergio 'Kun' Aguero made a fantastic debut, scoring twice, as City recovered from a slow start to demolish Swansea 4-0. On that performance, Carlos Tevez will be sitting on the substitute's bench once he returns.

Crucially after the first goal, City switched from a counter attacking 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2 with the introduction of Aguero. Surprise, surprise... or not if you read my column regularly, City opened up their attacking options and over ran the under-manned Swansea team.

That is how you are suppose to play at home, not the anaemic embarrassing first half when Dzeko was the only option up front and City were relying on Silva and Barry for their shooting opportunities.

We can only hope that Roberto Mancini took on board the lessons of this game and only plays a 4-2-3-1 when playing away to overly aggressive attacking teams and instead features two forwards when playing at home or against teams that are beatable away. Not coincidentally Dzeko seemed to come to life with Aguero playing up front with him supported by Silva's probing runs and passes.

The big loser tonight was Mario Balotelli. The instant partnership and understanding that appeared to be struck by Aguero, Silva and Dzeko means that Balotelli is likely to spend more time on the bench rather than playing with Dzeko up front.

And lastly spare a thought for Michel Vorm in the Swansea goal. Lost 4-0, was easily Swansea's man of the match and played superbly throughout.

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Posted by mike parker on 08/15/2011

I think the big loser is Tevez

Wallace Reply Tevez is gone. I've said this for over a year and have no reason to change my opinion that this is the time he leaves the club.

Posted by Sam on 08/15/2011

I dunno Wally. I think you are a bit harsh on Mancini. Seems to me he played it tighter for the first part to take the sting and enthusiasm out of Swansea then opened up the attack once things had calmed down in the second. One could say it was a perfectly executed game plan!

Wallace Reply That's a reasonable alternative and if he came out and said as such so be it. We have the evidence of Mancini playing a 4-2-3-1 far too often last year which mitigates against, but still...

Posted by P on 08/15/2011

Never count out tevez how amazin would it be if he stays!!
Manici needs to stop playin so defensive though.
City all the way!!

Wallace Reply Yes Tevez staying would be an embarrassment of riches. The issue for City is really simple. If Silva or De Jong were injured, who would step in? Those two hold the key to City's season.

Posted by Electric Kompany on 08/15/2011

Is there any truth to this Tevez to Inter Milan deal for Sneijder?

Wallace Reply Not that I have heard.

Posted by Scotty Cummings on 08/15/2011

Wally, where is the David Silva love?
any time he touched the ball good things were happening for city. He is the Oil to City scoring engine. Now, the sooner Mancini understands that then he can adjusts his formations accordingly.

Wallace Reply By the end of this season, Silva will be acknowledged as the best player in the Premier League.

Posted by Waqas Azeem on 08/15/2011

Back up for Silva should come from within the club. Razzak, Juan Roman, Suarez, Assulin. Unlikely though, with all corners pointing towards Nasri.
The bigger issue is Dejong's back up. Can't see any. Mancini should play Yaya there or even Kompany once Savic settles and Kolo returns.

Wallace Reply I really don't see how Nasri fits other than as a back up. Really curious to see how this works out. And yes agree about both Yaya and Kompany need to be played in that position to see who can be the back up.

Posted by James W. on 08/15/2011

Hey Wallace, do you think Nasri and Silva can coexist in the same lineup? If not, why? I think great players always find ways to play together no matter how similar they are.

Wallace Reply Not really, so I'm going to be really interested to see how this is set up.

Posted by Waqas Azeem on 08/15/2011

Nasri for Champions League reasons. Can play in the middle or out wide, young but experienced. Seems Mancini wants to rotate 4-5 or even 6 players after each game. (City have 6 away games in P.League after each champions league group game). But then this argument seems strange if you see the number of Center Mid's (4 currently) in the team and playing the diamond requires 3 and they will definitely get tired. I have hoped all summer that City sign a center mid who can distribute from deeper positions.

Posted by Thomas on 08/15/2011

I had to put on my dirty Aguero Argentina jersey before the game ended... what a great day for my boy. It was like a totally different game when he came in. Maybe the formation change helped a bit but it didn't take but a couple minutes to see who the best player on the field was. Can't wait for the next game.

Wallace Reply Notice how much better Dzeko seemed in that formation as well...

Posted by Wilbur on 08/15/2011

The De Jong back up is very easy. It's Ya Ya Toure. Why Mancini insits on playing him that far up the field I have no idea. I would love to see Ya Ya and De Jong playing together with Barry on the bench. Then you have the opportunity to put on another out and out attacker.

I think Nasri is purely as a back up for Silva especially for a little later in the season when City play every three days (i.e. twice per week).

What is the issue with Bellamy? Why can't he and Mancini get along? I agree with you, he is the missing piece of the team.

Wallace Reply Bellamy and Mancini clashed over Bellamy's training regime, which was designed to ease the injury potential to Bellamy. Mancini expected Bellamy to train the same way as everyone else.

Posted by fred on 08/16/2011

I think Tevez and aguero are the to most skilled forwards for city. Although they seem very alike, they are both maybe a little smaller than a regular forward and run on skill and dribbling more than headers or being a target man, so I would wonder if you could put them in the same formation or would it be better to have edin dzeko(a bigger stronger forward piared up with tevez or aguero.

I agree with man city playing attacking football, but I liked how were a little more defensive in the first half. Against more difficult sides if we decide to attack hard we could find our selfs chasing 2-0 into which for me is always a losing battle. although it could be the opposite

Posted by Samuel on 08/16/2011

Tevez who? Tevez is the one that carried Man City for 2 seasons (as said by Adam Johnson, twice), helped the team to end 35 year trophy drought, and helped them to win CL place this season.

Tevez may not be loyal to clubs, but he certainly is loyal to the "pitch". He still scored 20 league goals with all his homesickness family problem (plus problem with management ie "Cook"). Without this problem he would have done even better, scoring 30 goals was not beyond imagination.

Tevez endured 2 seasons without CL football. Aguero joined City becos Tevez succeeded in helping City in 3rd place finish. Without CL football Aguero probably wouldn't even have joined City. Tevez put all his sweat on the pitch helping City to realize their CL dream. Becos of CL Aguero joined in. You have to thank Tevez.

Wallace Reply oh I completely agree. To get from where City were to FA Cup winners and Champion League participant, City had to have one great player to come on board. That was Tevez. Without him none of this happens as fast as it does. His leaving will be acrimonious. But City fans will always owe the guy.

Tevez who? You should be respectful and grateful.

Posted by DarkDefender on 08/16/2011

Nasri is a bit different than Silva. He likes to run with the ball in to the box. Kind of similar what Tevez does when he drops down. Now if we have Nasri on the pitch and play with two strikers they can/will stay at their preferred position.
Now with Tevez he drops down and we have only one striker at the box.
Makes sense to me. Also he will be cover for Silva.

What really blow me away was when Savic came on we seemed to have defensiveline of three central defenders with wingbacks. Dalglish used this last season against Chelsea? and it worked well. Ultra defensive though..nothing new there

Wallace Reply I was impressed with Savic in the half I saw of him during the summer. Looking forward to him playing more.

Posted by Hari on 08/16/2011

the bellamy issue seems very childish.......but i think the real reason was tat he is a hughes loyalist......
does it seem certain that nasri wil come in and if so where does he fit in?

and its worrying that city have been unable to clear unwanted players out.....

Wallace reply City overpaid for players with both transfer fees and wages. It's the wages that are holding up the moves at the moment. City need to bite the bullet and pay off the contracts to allow the players to leave on reasonable transfer fees where the players are then free to negotiate lower wages with the players.

Posted by DarkDefender on 08/16/2011

So who do you think is the mystery right sided winger who can cross Mancini wants?

Wallace Reply No idea... Press keep floating numerous names, but I've not seen one that makes complete sense yet.

Posted by collin on 08/16/2011

man where are yours eyes adam johnson/ shawn...and bring along some one from in the youth folder..the team is completed as it..richards is playing well

Posted by Jonny on 08/16/2011

I've made a bet with a dirty United supporter that Dzeko will get >9 EPL goals this year. How do you think that'll pan out?

Wallace Reply That you'll win. Dzeko is a good player

Posted by MCFCBoy on 08/16/2011

Am I the only one who noticed that Barry seemed unnaturally slow on the ball. Besides a rocket shot that hit the crossbar, he did absolutely nothing of note. De Jong was always cleaning up for him and even when we switched to a 4-4-2, he was slow and laborious.I would much prefer to see Milner start in the diamond formation in place of Barry. Granted his preferred position is on the wing, but he can play quite well in midfield if he is given time and matches to get set.

Wallace Reply Barry is played out of position in such a formation. He thrives when he has the freedom to burst into the box.

Posted by micky-2-times on 08/16/2011

Hey Wallace, If the manager can't fit in Bellamy, then there is no room for Balotelli (the biggest loser of the night). Will he be on his way in January.
Dzeco played well, and looks like a good fit with Silva and Aguero. You are right, Silva will be recogniseed as best player in PL by the end of the season.
What about your thoughts on Community Shield, where City's midfield was very weak in the second half?
I doubt that Mancini has learnt anything, and will continue to play defencively, even at home.
Shouldn't Mancini play 4-4-2 at home and 4-2-3-1 away, simple? At least to start the game, make changes after, depending on the game?
Great start and Aguero looks the business.

Wallace Reply I'll have separate thoughts about the Community Shield in context to some thoughts on who will win this season...

Posted by Hari on 08/16/2011

comments on the community shield defeat?????
do u think city didnt take it too seriously???

Wallace Reply I wasn't fussed about the Shield either way. City played well before both teams started making substitutions and I would expect Mancini to have played it differently in a regular game.

Posted by Shiner on 08/16/2011

Good to have you back Wallace. And I had a good chuckle when the page opened and saw your title. Samuel is right, City would be no where without Tevez, but how can you not smirk at that title after all that's gone on this summer. Great article, looking forward to more.

Posted by Daniel on 08/16/2011

Wallace, they can't pay off the contracts as that would affect FFPR. It's a weird twist. Wages from before this year (I believe it's this year) don't penalize a club, but if City make a payoff this year, that money will count towards FFPR limits. There is simply no way to pay the players and release them.

Wallace Reply really? I thought they could do that with players signed before this year, but not any future contracts... But that's a sticky one if so...

Posted by vc on 08/16/2011

hey wallace, i recently started to read your blog. quite enjoyable nonetheless. Anyway, don't you think that we need to offload tevez before he turns to another adebyor/bellamy case? with four world class striker including the bad boy balotelli, problem is bound to occur. you yourself said that we need more squad players than stars. now that inter is selling eto to that russian club, don't you think they could bid for tevez, and shouldn't we be happy getting around 40m, now that aguero started with flying colors?

Wallace Reply I don't believe keeping all four is a workable solution and that Tevez should be sold. I'd like him to make a final appearance with the club though. We owe him a lot. With him, the club isn't in the Champions League.

Posted by Daniel on 08/16/2011

Yeah, FFPR is weird. I will try to check around to confirm, but that does seem to be the case. Bellamy's wages don't count... unless we buy him out.

Wallace Reply Yeah that sounds right, I recall reading about it that way...

Posted by vc on 08/16/2011

a rumor has been going on about a loan move for adebyor to Spurs, but they are gonna cover only half of his 170k weekly wage. besides they will be giving us 2M loan fee. don't u feel its a good bargain? given that, he is putting up with reserves grabbing the full paycheck from us at the end of the week?
Is there no way we can offload these huge paycheck consuming players if they are reluctant to find a new club for themselves unlike shay given(respect)?

i can't really blame Mark huges for this, because at that time we needed to pay a bit extra to attract new faces in the club. but sometimes i feel that we might have offered them too much, too much to get rid of them.

Wallace Reply if what we are hearing about the UEFA Status Quo rules is true then all those Mancini didn't want should have been paid off before they impacted the regulations.

Posted by peace on 08/16/2011

It exhausts me to think of the different line ups that Mancini can roll out each game. But it keeps me up at night to think that every successful line up has to revolve around Silva in the attack. Otherwise City will have the best defense but have far too many draws to challenge for the title. A player like Nasri may be redundant and overly expensive for a back up, but City need creativity in the midfield.

Wallace Reply Silva and de Jong. Those two are the most vital.

Posted by Hari on 08/17/2011

Wallace,this is an off topic comment but i was just reading the manu blog and was shocked to see how partisan the writer was and how much profanity was posted in the comments below.........even the title was team spirit 3 mercenaries 2
just made me realise how mature and excellent this blog is. keep up the good work and please give me ur opinion on the united correspondent

Wallace Reply Each correspondent works within a framework that allows them to craft their interaction with the fans. I don't allow profanity in the comments so if you post with such, it doesn't get approved. And yes that means I'm the one letting those comments of folks attacking my columns through to be posted. Valid criticism, even if I disagree, is the basis for great discussion. Personal attacks on me, with the odd exception, will not be posted.

I also believe that, while a City fan, looking at the footballing world in an un bias manner - even when that means criticizing City - again makes for a lively debate. We've had some pretty good back and forth with intelligent United and Liverpool fans in particular because of this.

There's no right way to do this. This is just the way I prefer.

Posted by Hari on 08/17/2011

with reference to my above comment that was my point...that this is a proper footballing blog while the manu one seems to be another place for fans to shout at each other without ever making any sense(the correspondent himself is one of them)...
thats what makes the mancity blog special!!!!!
again id just like to complement u on the way you look at football and the way you run this blog!! :D

Posted by Chinmay on 08/17/2011

Hi Wallace,

Nice to see your blog after a long time.
I hope that Mancini adopts to your favorite diamond formation, at least at home, with Aguero and Dzeko and Silva - perfect tip... But if he keep on playing sole striker, not only fans will start getting irritated, it will be very unsettled squad with Tevez, Aguero, Dzeko, Baloteli, Adabayore all fighting for single place - and all expecting to play 90 minutes each and every weekend.

On a side note, yours is the most unbiased column on and focuses more on footballing debate rather than mud splashing elsewhere. Keep up the good work, kudos! I am not a city fan but like to read the column for footballing reasons :)

Posted by Bruce on 08/17/2011


Most of the profanity on the Man Utd blog appears to be from Man City fans.

Wallace Reply Well I could understand why they might be driven to distraction...

Posted by tayofolajin on 08/17/2011

I hope this will not be a flash-in-the-pan performance by Man City. It's too early to predict how an unpredictable season like English Premiership unfolds. The masters of the Premiership, Manchester United are still in the game. Factor that into it!

Wallace Reply I'm certainly not going to go overboard on that one performance. Aguero was incredible, but as others have pointed out, Swansea were tiring...

Posted by Yank on 08/17/2011

Great post as always and glad to see you back. I agree backups to de Jong and Silva are key, but I'm curious of something you have said in previous posts: why do you think AJ could provide the quality backup we need to Silva? Was he in that role much at Middlesbrough, or did I miss some games where he has done that at City?

Completely agree with Hari's observation of your rules of decorum and your response.

Wallace Reply Adam Johnson played in that role against Bolton shortly after Mancini took over from Hughes. It was the first time I understood how the formation could truly work and Johnson was very lively in the role.

Posted by alen on 08/17/2011

i jus want to say. i was very disapointed with the defensive lineup we had. i mean it was swansea. we shud attack inferrior teams. and. if by any chance tevez is availabe to play and he starts. or gets the captains arm band. i will loose all respect fo mancini and all of the city board. sit his greedy bumm on the bench n let him watch players who want to b here n play for the team. i believe aguero is much better then tevez and is a team player because he passes the ball.

if u let him start or giv em the captains band. ur jus letin everyone kno that players r bigger then the team. and no player in the world is bigger then the team he plays for.

we are loaded with attackers and i believe we shud attack more. that wil bring fear to our oponents. wich cud posibly win us the game before it even starts.

Posted by Nick on 08/17/2011

City to the world, Tevez to go and get Wesley Snijder as we do need a pure creative midfeilder abd not a substitute in the position. Just imagine silva, johnson on the wings, dejong and wesley in the midle and Aguero and Dzeko up front. Premireship glory.

Wallace Reply I think Silva would be wasted on the wing but...

Posted by Austin on 08/18/2011

with regards to silva and de jong's back ups i think it would be easy to put in kolarov, richards or other defenders into a CDM position if one goes down to injury and do a good job( though not as well and Nigel), also Mancini talks about rotation in the lineup and a need for 2 squads a week when barry and de jong start nearly every game as 5th and 6th defenders which causes less spots for the offensive players (like Milner) that are becoming unhappy, seems like a real easy fix to me.

Posted by DarkDefender on 08/18/2011

Im a bit concerned about NdJ. Why? Because he seeked advice from one person he coulnt. This person is a representative of Tevez as well and Onouha.

I just wonder if this rat is truly a persona non grata at City how will NdJ contact with him affect his future in City. To me it really seems that all the bridges has been burned between City and Kia and City board are absolutely disgusted with him and are willing to take measures with anyone who is on the good side of Kia.

Your thoughts Wallace?

Wallace Reply Yeah I wondered why the de Jong talks had stalled. City need to step up their efforts in identifying what happens if de Jong isn't available.

Posted by AK on 08/18/2011

Its clear Balotelli was the biggest loser in the game against Swans. Aguero did all that and apparently he's not "match fit". Dzeko totally came to life when Aguero came on and they seem to be a great partnership with Silva running the show behind.

What do you think is going to happen when Toure is back? Seems we have too many central defenders and Kolarov cares more about shooting with that beast of a left food than defending. I'm still worried about our defense. A prolonged injury to De Jong or (god forbid) Kompany and we are screwed.

Wallace Reply I'd like to see both Toure and Lescott unloaded. However until City sign that makor centre back I've been advocating I don't see it happening and Toure will be back in the mix.

Posted by Mukul on 08/18/2011

Apparently Nasri's move to City is imminent. Where do you think Mancini will play him? He can't be kept as a back-up for sure. Also with Tevez likely to stay put till Jan how do you think City will line up against the big teams and the 'small' teams?

Wallace Reply I honestly don't get the interest in Nasri at all. Never have.

Posted by Wilbur on 08/18/2011

A suggestion on the whole Nasri thing..... Maybe we do something crazy and play a 4-2-2-2. With the full backs going up and down the pitch to provide width. Some combination of De Jong, Ya Ya, and Gareth Barry as holding players with one given the license to roam up the field (i.e. the one other than De Jong). Nasri and Da Silva behind the two strikers (i.e. 2 of Balotelli, Dzeko, Tevez, and Aguero) until Tevez leaves that is.

Thoughts on this formation?

Also Toure's contract will soon expire I think he has a year or two at most left. I doubt we'll renew and are hoping that Savic will become that strong defender to pair with Kompany by the time. Kind of like Nemanja Vidic.

Wallace Reply I liked what I saw of Savic this summer. Did the simple thing well and didn't try to be "clever"

Posted by Manny Urbanus on 08/19/2011

Mr. Poulter, as we relish in the birth of Aguero in Citizen blue--and that Mancini must be at least tempted to stick with two attackers and Silva right behind them--I am worried that Cook and Marwood are going to blow the Nasri signing. There have been no public confirmations of an actual deal going down--just rumors. Therefore, MU or Chelsea could sweep in, or Arsenal might just find Nasri still on their pitch. Have you heard anything substantial?

If we don't sign him, I fear that Mancini will stay with his defensive ways. However, I also fear that he will still stick with the 4-2-3-1 even with Nasri here---yet that still would help our fluidity and attack. What do you think?

Wallace Reply I much prefer the no comment until a deal is done style of deal making. Sven, for all my issues with him, was the best at this.

If Mancini plays a 4-2-3-1 regularly then City will not win the league. Plain and simple. This in a year where they have the potential to do so less because of the talent of the team/squad, which is certainly there, but more because both United and Chelsea are in transition.

Posted by Jonny on 08/19/2011

AJ is a little too left foot dependent to play in the middle I think. City fans and management need to realise that any replacement for Silva is going to be a huge step down and just get on with it. Giving some young midfielders gametime is essential.

Wallace Reply The concern is injury related. If Silva is out for a long period then who plays there?

Posted by Arkadymo on 08/19/2011

I was thinking that Nasri could be used a winger in Mancini's 4-2-3-1 that he seems to have fallen in love with. Dzeko up top with Nasri - Silva - Johnson with support by De Jong and Yaya seems like a poten front 6 to me. Thoughts?

Wallace Reply in away games, sure. At home you need two attackers up top.

Posted by Evan on 08/19/2011

I'm expecting nasri to claim a spot on the left wing..... He could obviously play the creative center mid if something happens to silva I know it's not his best or preferred position but in signing him maybe manchini will stop wasting silva by putting him out wide

Posted by Brian on 08/20/2011

Aguero looked fantastic coming off the bench after the half, what do you think of keeping him in that position like a "super sub"?

Wallace Reply I'd much rather City played Aguero and Dzeko from the start.

Posted by riles on 08/20/2011

Do you think YaYa deserves to start, I'm a big fan of his and think he is perfect in a CDM role for city with his tough D and passing abillity. Do u think Barry is better or that neither should be in the line-up? I think a 4-4-2 with johnson and nasri wide plus yaya behind silva would be great but everybody seems to love DJ... also a 4-2-3-1 would have plenty of offense if u have johnson, silva, and nasri (so only if he arrives), with yaya and DJ behind, and aguero up top

Wallace Reply I'd really prefer the Inter Diamond because it gets the best out of Silva, Barry, de Jong and the two forwards. Barry in particular can be very good coming forward, but is restricted in his role in a 4-2-3-1. We really need a central partnership in the middle of the defense that we don't have to worry about if de Jong isn't playing. Milner is wasted in his current role.

Posted by Sean on 08/20/2011

Diamond formation-de Jong at the base, nasri and yaya either side, silva up top with 2 of aguero Mario dzeko and maybe Carlos. You agree Wallace ? The problem with our big squad is even with all that talent crammed on the field your going to have half the England national team on the bench and 50+million of strikers. Not to mention that's zero room for the young boys even with rotation

Wallace Reply Yes I agree.

Posted by Stan on 08/20/2011

I'll be interested to see what formation Mancini trots out onto the pitch at the Reebok Sunday. I was amazed he went with a lone striker at home against Swansea...but in fairness if Vorm hadn't been in inspired form and a couple of shots are an inch closer, City has 3 or 4 goals by halftime.

Nonetheless, Aguero was electrifying when he came on. You couldn't look away for fear of missing something amazing. I salivate at the Silva-Aguero partnership.

I'm probably wrong here, but I suspect Mancini sees Nasri as another creative midfielder who can step in when Silva needs rest. And he IS creative. Can he be happy with a somewhat secondary role?

And keep in mind that having Nasri on the squad means he's not at ManU, Chelsea or Liverpool. Such largesse is possible now for ManCity. Yes, Johnson can be quite creative, particularly driving at defenders....but is he not best-suited for the wing? I think Nasri can offer more flexibility when Silva needs a break or is hurt.

Wallace Reply By implication that means Nasri isn't in City's first 11 and I'd be surprised if he was coming to the club knowing he would be a back up. That's the issue, I don't see him in the starting line up unless you sit YaYa or Barry.

Posted by James on 08/20/2011

The video of the petulant Mario standing on the sidelines looking lost was priceless; obviously we City fans are not the only ones piqued by Aguero's fantastic debut.

It is clear over the past several months that you disagree with some of Mancini's tactical choices, and I agree with you. Of almost equal concern for me, however, is Mancini's man/squad management. Bellamy, Adebayor ... many first-team candidates have been left out in the proverbial cold. It now appears Onouha has hit that point as well. Is this merely the cold-hearted approach of a manager with tough, yet correct decisions, regarding their suitability in the locker room or eroding his authority? Or is this symptomatic of an incorrigibly ham-fisted megalomaniac Mancini? I'm sure the truth is somewhere in between, but I'm interested in your thoughts on this.

I fear we might very well win *something*, but lose our identity for home-grown players. I guess there are worse outcomes (like relegation!).

Wallace Reply Mancini certainly seems to have issues with players and once he has fallen out with them there is no history of him fixing the issue.

Posted by Jake on 08/21/2011

If City brought in Nasri, that would solve the whole center defensive midfielder problem with no backups. As long as Mancini wants to keep the 4-2-3-1 formation, Yaya can move back with De Jong, and Barry can be a substitute that is often used. Aguero can be winger with Silva, while Nasri is in the center forward position and Dzeko is up top. It solves everything, no?

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Wallace Poulter Wallace Poulter is an award winning video game producer, designer, industry consultant and writer. He has been a football fanatic since the day he moved in next door to Brian Clough. "Cloughie" being the acknowledged genius that he was promptly moved out and went to manage Derby. A serviceable senior school left-back in his youth, Poulter played one season of Sunday league football as a striker proving conclusively that he was a serviceable senior school left-back! Today Poulter remains involved with football as a licensed referee and most recently as a consultant on a Football MMO.

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