A new release of Football Manager usually results in us taking over at the club we support, but there’s a whole year to enjoy the game and that means there’s plenty of time for multiple saves and challenges.
One of the best things about the game is it gives us chance to either make or re-create history, so here’s a look at a few clubs who should be fun to manage this year:
Salford City – English League Two
Starting transfer budget – £20k
Excess wage budget – £1.5k P/W
There may not be a ton of imagination in choosing Salford as the appeal of legendary owners and financial backing will always be an obvious choice, but this isn’t as simple as it looks.
It’s always interesting to watch clubs as they rise through the divisions because the financial advantage can only take you so far, and Salford may have hit the wall in terms of simply throwing money at their problems.
IRL managers are starting to struggle and even getting out of League Two is a tough affair – never mind rising up and finding a way to eventually challenge United and City for the dominance in the area.
You have the building blocks for success in the sense that the squad should be enough to take you up, but the facilities are poor, the club’s financial outlook isn’t great and you aren’t blessed with youth prospects.
You’ll need to find a way to take the club up while also setting them up for long term success and sustainability, while the board are demanding high tempo, intensive pressing and attacking football.
Queens Park – Scottish League Two
Starting transfer budget – £80k
Excess wage budget – £1.5k P/W
Queens Park has always been an old favourite for diehard Football Manager fans because of their amateur status – it means you would constantly lose your best players and any kind of stability would be impossible.
That’s no longer the case since they’ve turned professional and Hampden Park has also been sold so you’ll move into a much smaller ground after the first season, although the general facilities are outstanding for this level.
The playing squad is also a class above with several players who could easily play for an upper Championship club, so there’s little excuse for not going up in your first year.
Things will get difficult after the first season when the money begins to run out and players will start to move on, while League One will probably leave you with one of Partick Thistle or Falkirk to deal with in your second year, and Cove Rangers have the ability to spend too.
It’s important to try and preserve the culture of youth development around the club with internationals like Andy Robertson, Lawrence Shankland and Barry Douglas all coming through at the club.
The eventual goal will be reaching the top flight and building a sustainable culture of responsible spending and youth development, but it will be do-able if the squad is managed well.
Deportivo La Coruna – Spanish Third tier
Starting transfer budget – £1.7m
Excess wage budget – minus £400 P/W
Depor’s demise has been one of the saddest things to see in football over the last 10 years, but they are starting to pay the price for overspending at the start of the decade.
Depor found out how tight the margins are in football as last year would’ve been spent in La Liga, only for current Arsenal defender Pablo Mari to blow an absolute sitter in the final moments of their promotion play off in the 18/19 season.
The reality is that they went down last year and now find themselves in the same division as the B team of their biggest rivals Celta Vigo where they actually lost against them in December so that has to mark their lowest point yet.
The third tier in Spain is mad with a series of play offs to take you back to the Segunda, but this squad should blow every team out of the water.
Despite the horrendous situation you’ll still attract crowds of 25k+ thanks to the phenomenal backing of the locals, and there’s a long term approach that needs to come alongside the mandatory promotion demands.
The club are finally trying to make the academy a focus thanks to the approach of club legends Juan Carlos Valeron and Fran to run things, while you also have dome debts that need to be cleared so developing players who can be sold is imperative.
The spine of the side is phenomenal with Mujaid in defence who will become a La Liga talent defender, Uche Agbo and Celso Borges will dominate the midfield and long-term FM players will know all about Uruguayan striker Diego Rolan.
The eventual goal will be to place Depor back among the giants of European football, but simply getting back to La Liga and putting Celta back in their box will still be good going.
Montpellier – Ligue 1 – France
Starting transfer budget – £4.11M
Excess wage budget – zero
Montpellier’s history is fairly non descript – a yo-yo French club from the south who have seen some domestic cup success, only there’s one almighty anomaly in 2012 where they only went and upset the odds by winning the league.
That season was the perfect storm of new signings and young players coming of age at the right moment, but there’s something incredible when you look at Montpellier’s recruitment.
They’ve done extremely well in recent years to develop players and sell them on for a huge profit, but it’s only really Olivier Giroud and Morgan Sanson who have really kicked on since leaving.
If you look at that title winning side you’ll see players like Younnes Belhanda, Remy Cabella and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa who were crucial to the team, but they’ve not done much since.
Even in recent years the examples of Benjamin Stambouli, Ryad Boudebouz and Benjamin Lecomte have struggled since leaving the south of France, so it points to a club which knows how to maximise the potential of their current players.
They’re currently playing in a fairly rigid 3-5-2 formation which relies on the brilliance of Andy Delort, Teji Savanier and Florent Mollet to cause problems at the other end.
The defence needs to be your immediate priority because it’s led by a 42 year-old Hilton who will turn 43 very quickly, and it makes his partner Daniel Congre look pretty youthful at 35.
The club is built to continue their relative success of top 10 finishes thanks to a solid youth system, but you’ll need to figure out when to let players go and continue the cycle of developing and maximising talent.
The ultimate goal is to find a way to topple PSG once again, while it would be nice if you can bring some of the former title heroes home to help you.
FC Schalke – German Bundesliga
Starting transfer budget – £8.5m
Excess wage budget – £82k P/W
Schalke are often thought of as one of the giants in German football, they have a good squad and they managed to finish as runners up a couple of years ago – so why have they managed to go on a run of 22 games without a victory?
They did manage to break the duck recently by beating a lower division side in the cup, but they are starting to look like genuine relegation candidates if this run keeps going.
you’re first task is to turn that round and instil some kind of winning mentality in the squad, but there’s also the potential to play some exciting attacking football with these players.
In Harit, Matondo and Kutucu you’ve get the pace, finish ability and craft to create a brilliant attacking midfield three which will cause problems against any opposition, while there’s plenty of hard work and pace in some of the back ups too.
You’ve got some solid yet creative holding midfielders and a solid base in the centre of defence to build from, so it’s just the full back areas which look weak.
The board do want European football so you you’ll need to find a winning formula pretty quickly, but there’s enough here to become Europa League regulars and eventually challenge the might of Bayern Munich.