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From Part Time to the Big Time

The journey of the non dodgy Big Sam.
Started on 2 February 2017 by BigSam92
Latest Reply on 2 February 2017 by BigSam92
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Sam Hubert, a huge Birmingham City supporter. Season Ticket holder on the Tilton watching his beloved Blues from a young age. Personal favourite players include Martin Grainger, Stan Lazaridis, Christophe Dugarry, Ian Bennett, and many more to mention. A theme here, I like to see a side be rugged, determined and well structured but like the side to have style, class and intent going forward. This was my aim when I started my Football Manager 2017 journey, in the National League with local side, Solihull Moors.

Solihull Moors favourites for relegation, part time side are a team I also attend on a basis. Season Ticket holders at Blues, Villa, Baggies, Coventry and Walsall can all attend Solihull Moors games at a reduced price with their season ticket. After stomping to the National League North Title in 2015/16 with Asante banging them in and Marcus Bignot in the dugout, I started to fall for them. And that is why I started my Journey here.

And what an unbelievable start to the season it was. The signings of Tobi Sho Silva, Callum Nicholas, Callum Preston and the loan signings of Daniel Cleary and Luke Maxwell from parent club Birmingham City helped start the campaign 17 games unbeaten in all competitions, falling to the first defeat at home to Forest Green Rovers who eventually ran ramped to the title. The 4-4-2 formation seen Harry White be clinical, scoring 31 goals in the league, and players such as Theo Streete, Joel Dielna, Jamey Osbourne, Ryan Beswick and Darryl Knights continued to help the club exceed expectations and we finished 2nd in the league. An eventual playoff win over Aldershot Town followed and for the first time in their history, Solihull Moors would be playing in the football League.

An important summer ahead for Moors, where the club became a full time club and a lot of new players were required to add much needed quality to the side to help consolidate the club in the football league. A target of avoid relegation was set, and in came a fresh crop of new players. Exciting youth prospect Andy Bradshaw was sold onto Burnley for 600k and a 40% of profit of next sale clause, which gave us a great budget. In came Omar Bogle from Grimbsy, Solihull Moors all time record scorer returning in a 50k deal, and in followed Mitch Hancox, Charlee Adams, and Lee Ashcroft. Experience was added in the form of Scott Loach and Bob Harris, and all of a sudden hopes were high to exceed the expectations and finish around mid table.

Inconsistent form followed, with Moors losing the first 3 games of the new campaign. Following that up with 3 wins on the bounce. Going into the start of October Moors were sitting 9th in League Two with a potential playoff push to aim for, then the bad form hit. 1 win in 10 resulted in a board meeting, the board very unhappy and slipping to 19th in the league. I had 1 game to save my job. I was frustrated with how they were treating me. I had far exceeded all expectations and now my job was on the line. This is where my journey with Moors ended, as I resigned from my position straight after the board meeting in early December. Neil Aspin took eventual charge, and Moors had a decent end to the season and finished 10th.

I went unemployed for just under a month, and I applied and got the job at Birmingham City! A club I have supported since I was 4 years old and been a regular season ticket holder. Birmingham had fell on very hard times, relegation from the championship the season before and Blues sacked Brian McDermott just before the January Transfer window with the side 9th in league 1, and just lost 6-2 at home to Leyton Orient.

After getting the job I decided the squad needed a small overhaul. I unfortuanetly lost the battle to keep Maikel Kieftenbeld, as he went onto Norwich for almost 5 million including add ons. Stephen Gleeson and Andrew Shinnie followed out the exit door, and in came, Danny Wilson, Macheda, Daryl Horgan, Luke Murphy and Callum Paterson for just over 1 million combined. Straight away I had immediate success with a 2-0 win over Bury. The unexpected hero of the piece was Nicolai Brock Madsen, a player who returned from a loan at PEC Zwolle in the summer and was a key part of the side that eventually won promotion via the playoffs. I also won the checkatrade trophy on the way.

A small budget was given for the Championship campaign, and it had to be the toughest championship you could wish for, with clubs like Boro, Norwich, Everton, Leeds, Cardiff, Swansea, Wolves, Sunderland and arch rivals Aston Villa. In came Jackson Irvine, Conor Grant, Ched Evans, Joe Walsh and Craig Gardner on free transfers, strenghtned with great use of the transfer list market bringing in Tyrone Mings, Rob Holding, Duncan Watmore and Jackson Irvine. Unfortunately I lost Che Adams, Fabbrini but ultimately they helped contribute to the signings. I was ready and confident of a good season.

How good did the season go? Well 32 wins and only 5 defeats seen me storm to the title. Impressive victories at Goodison Park and only 2 home defeats all campaign helped along the way. Rob Holding didnt miss a minute of league football, and a solid defence only conceded 37 league goals all season. After an 8 year absence, Blues were back in the big time!

The work for the new season began in the middle of April. An inital budget of £25million was given and I got to work. I knew already who I wanted to keep and offload, and where I needed to strenghten. And the first signing was an absolute coup. Leon Bailey, explosive Jamaican left winger, signed by Dortmund the summer before was transfer listed for a measley £6.5million. An absolute steal. Promises to play in preferred position, strenghen back room staff, strenghten squad and allow to treat club as a stepping stone were key to get his signature. But having had him last season, I knew he would be a gem.

In came full back Antiono Barreca on a free from Torino, Matt Miazga, Patrick Roberts, Benik Afobe and Emyr Huws all on cut down deals due to being transfer listed. You can find some gems on the transfer market! And also a loan signing of Sebastian Rode to add some steel to the middle of the park and we were ready to go. A humbling 4-1 defeat to Spurs followed an opening day victory to Southampton. But some decent form followed and I found myself in the Europa League qualifying spots going into November. 11 games unbeaten followed up until the new year, and I was in the Champions League places. Absolutely incredible. Just over 2 years after being threated with the sack at Solihull I was competing at the top of the prem with my boy hood supported club! Some important signings in January, a 2million signing of Jorge Rocchi a Mexican/Spanish nationalality signed with unbelievable potential, and Alex Tiexera on a free transfer. Unfortunately thats where it went sour. only 5 wins in the second half of the season seen me eventually finish in 7th. The FA cup winners and EFL Cup winners finished below me so I did not get any European football. But a fantastic season none the less, and a bright future ahead, with some amazing young talent coming through.

Onto my 3rd full seaon at Blues, the summer seen key players, Ben Garratt and Tyrone Mings leave, Gardner let go on a free due to getting too old. And some fringe players who underpeformed left including a promising youngster called Luis Uribe, who left to Man City in a deal potentially worth £20million. A big war chest of £75 million given, I made the most of it! Borthwick Jackson came in on a free to cover the loss of Mings, Barreca making the step up to first team from cover. Morgan Schneiderlin coming in with United contributing to wage which was a massive help, some more youngsters to develop and then the key signings. Replacement goalkeeper Artur Wolkiewicz from Hamburg for £8million, Polish keeper with amazing potential, boy hood Birmingham fan Troy Deeney in a deal that could raise to £14million instantly made captain, and amazing talent in Youri Tielemans and Reece Oxford aquired as well.

Started the season off ok, 2 wins and 2 draws from my first 4, before going on a monster run which propelled me to the top of the pile. 13 wins out of 14 in all competitions saw me get to the semi finals of the league cup and top of the league going into the christmas period. The amazing season continued, strenghened by the signings of Callum Gribbin and Lukas Klostermann in January. A EFL cup win, and FA Cup semi final followed in the season, before losing the title on the final day of the season to Tottenham, who also won the Champions League. Very disappointing but a 2nd place finish and Champions League football confirmed. Expectations exceeded! Troy Deeney was on fire all year, unbeaten at home in the league and a defence that at times looked solid as a rock. Excited for the next campaign!

A job came up in the summer I really fancied, RB Leipzig. The club just won the Europa League, have unbelievable facilities and a fantastic squad. I went for the job, I unfortunately didn't get the job as it was given to Phillip Cocu, so I continued at Blues, keeping my eye on Leipzig.

At this point, Brexit had occured, its a hard brexit. Work permits required for everyone so I changed my focus to signing home grown players instead. First signing was Nathan Redmond, a player that came through the academy at Blues and would be a home grown player in the side. Promoted a few from the youth side including Ronan Hale, Josh Martin and full back Kai Henry. A few more departures in Conor Grant, Alex Tiexera, Zaha and Borthwick Jackson, but in came mega money signing Marcus Rashford! Only them two mentioned and Riecedly Bazoer came in the summer due to some of the youth signed in previous seasons being more capable to play now. And off we went.

A great Champions League group stage seen us qualify from the group with Sporting Lisbon, another run to the EFL Cup semi final with the back up players and 3rd in the league. But I was starting to lose interest. I wanted a new challenge. I wanted the Bundesliga.

Phillip Cocu had a disasterous 6 months in charge. Nobody signed in the summer after 2 key departures. Leipzig crashed out their group and were 11th in the league before Cocu got sacked just before the winter break, I went back in.

A budget of £60million was offered, a wage increase of double and a new challenge, I had to go. It was with a heavy heart I left blues, but hope to return one day and hopefully win the Premier League!

So here is where my journey is currently, I have taken Leipzig up to 8th in the Bundesliga with 10 games still to go, I have Europa League football that I am aiming to win as I cant see myself qualifying for the champions league through the league. I have added some much needed strength and depth into the side in the form of Elneny, Van Beek, Tete, Ounas, and a few regens! I hope you all stay tuned for further updates!

Currently, Solihull Moors are 9th in League 1, Birmingham are 4th in the Prem and won the EFL cup again. They have however lost promising youngster Jorge Rocchi to PSG. Klostermann and Bailey also sold for massive profits.

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