There is an expected way to play Football Manager. Create your profile, pick the team you want to manage and see where the game takes you.
However, some players like to test themselves by setting certain restrictions. Sections of the FM community are always on the lookout for new challenges, creating different ways to achieve everything there is to achieve as a manager.
We’ve picked out some of the most interesting and exciting challenges to try in FM 2020.
Employ the Bilbao policy
In reality, La Liga club Athletic Bilbao are renowned for their strict player policy. Only footballers from the Basque region of Spain are allowed to play for the club, a philosophy that could inspire a rather tough FM challenge.
The obvious thing to try would be replicating real life, attempting to lead Bilbao to a trophy with a Basque-only squad. But why not translate the policy to another club? Restrict yourself to only signing players from north west of England as Manchester United boss by building your team around Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard. Or put a bit of a twist on it – take over at Celtic Park and put together an exclusively Irish squad.
Depending on the club you choose, this challenge will fluctuate in difficulty. If nothing else, it might tempt you to look to your academy more often than the transfer market.
Put faith in youth
While the Bilbao policy might tempt you to look at younger players, this challenge leaves you with no other choice. Try winning silverware with a squad made up of players no older than 21.
The advantage of this particular restriction is that you can raise plenty of funds by selling your older players, and you can use that money to buy youngsters who will generally be much cheaper. On the other hand, a lack of experience could hurt your club’s chances of meeting the board’s objectives.
If you’re playing the long game, frustration will kick in when you have to sell your best player after he turns 21 – but it’s called a challenge for a reason.
The exact opposite to the above. Build a squad of players aged at least 30 and try to win a trophy. Your team will have plenty of experience, but it might end up lacking pace and picking up too many injuries.
It might also cost a fair bit to assemble the squad. In Football Manager, players generally peak between the ages of 27 and 32, and while this means your team can be made up of top-level footballers in their early 30s, it also means selling clubs will demand large fees while you’re putting the squad together.
The most frustrating scenario here would be if your academy contains a once-in-a-generation talent that you’re not allowed to play. Sorry, no exceptions.
The name game
Reddit user badgenes94 compiled a rather ingenious list of FIFA Career Mode challenges that can easily be applied to Football Manager, and most of them relate to club names.
For example, try managing Brighton & Hove Albion, Burton Albion or West Bromwich Albion with only players from Great Britain. Alternatively, you might choose to take charge of Boca Juniors or Young Boys with a squad made up of players under the age of 25.
These challenges get even more scrupulous. One of Swansea City’s nicknames is ‘the Jacks’, so you may only sign players named Jack for the Welsh side. Tricky indeed.
From non-league to Premier League
The ultimate achievement in English football is to lead a non-league club to the Premier League. Once you’re in League 2, make sure you get the summer transfer window right and you may be able to ride the crest of a wave all the way to the promised land.
To make things even more interesting – and potentially satisfying – why not set yourself an extra challenge? Ensure you have at least three players in your squad who make 20+ appearances in every division on your way to the top-flight.
That way, you’ll ensure at least four people attain legend status at your chosen club.
The ultimate rookie
Getting to the Premier League from non-league can be made easier by starting the game as an internationally recognised figure with the very best coaching badges, which essentially functions as Football Manager’s “easy” difficulty level.
Your challenge, then, is to do the opposite. Start unemployed with no coaching badges and set your Past Playing Experience to Sunday League Footballer. As you can see, your stats will be extremely low, so you’ll need to build up experience to work your way up the footballing ladder.
But with perseverance and patience, you might just get there.
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Sell your best player every year
It’s the end of the season. Your star striker kept you in the Premier League with 20 goals and an unprecedented average rating. Sadly, this challenge means he’s a goner.
This is a harsh and challenging restriction. At the end of every campaign, you must sell the player with the highest average rating. Thankfully, there is a good chance his performances have increased his value, and you may be able to replace him effectively.
It’s certainly an interesting way to experiment in the transfer market and learn to rely on your entire squad rather than one superstar.