The long and arduous wait for Football Manager 2020 is nearly over, but as is customary, we’ve been gifted a premature glimpse into the latest instalment with the early-access Beta.
The popularised simulation has attracted a cult following over the years, and enthusiasts, including Antoine Griezmann, will be able to get their hands on Sports Interactive’s latest series when it hits the shelves on November 19.
But, who will you choose to manage? Are you a veteran of the game looking for a fresh, Herculean task? Or has your inner-hipster got you leaning towards a club away from the spotlight?
Well, whichever dugout you opt to reign over, we’ve got a plethora of exciting choices for you to consider. So, without further ado, here are the best and most fun teams to manage in Football Manager 2020.
1. Red Bull Salzburg
Our mentions anytime Erling Haaland scores… pic.twitter.com/iKqab20stj
— Football Manager (@FootballManager) November 5, 2019
And no, not just because of Erling Braut Haaland – well, partly. The Austrian club have risen to prominence this season courtesy of their Champions League exploits, notably scoring three goals at Anfield last month, but Die Mozartstadter are far more than just Haaland FC. Jesse Marsch’s side possess some of the best wonderkids on the game, including 19-year-old Dominik Szoboszlai – a must-buy for any top club – as well as Antoine Bernede and Jerome Onguene.
This fledgeling trident can develop into an elite band of world class players, so why not be the manager to nurture them accordingly and make RB Salzburg one of the continent’s fiercest sides? Providing, of course, you’re able to prevent Europe’s vultures from pillaging your ranks.
The Italian elevator club have been exiled from Serie A since 2011, but are now back in the big time and have one or two faces you’ll definitely want to use. The Little Swallows became something of a bohemian club for FM aficionados last year because of Sandro Tonali, or, ‘The New Pirlo’. Well, the long-haired prodigy continues to ply his trade in northern Italy, and once again, will become one of the game’s best playmakers. But the man on everyone’s lips is, of course, Mario Balotelli.
The mercurial marvel joined Brescia in the summer and, under your tutelage, could fire the Biancazzurri to an unfathomable Scudetto. The prospect of a Tonali-Balotelli link-up is certainly a mouth-watering one. Their appearance in the top league could be a mere flurry if recent ventures offer any precedent, but you can be the man to buck this yo-yo trend.
3. Norwich City
Newly-promoted Norwich may be struggling near the foot of the Premier League table, but they could be aiming to break the top six ceiling if a tactician of your credentials were at the helm. Among English clubs, the Canaries boast some of the finest young talent in the game, including Max Aarons, Ben Godfrey, Jamal Lewis and Todd Cantwell.
The exciting English quartet can be polished and moulded into future Three Lions stars, but only in the right hands. And let’s not forget about Emi Buendia, an Argentina international in the making.
4. Bolton Wanderers
This one is like having the difficulty settings on steroids, but for FM grandmasters, taking over an ill-fated Bolton presents the perfect opportunity to test your true skills in the virtual dugout. The Trotters’ off-field problems culminated in a 12-point deduction earlier this season and that’s exactly the scenario you’ll be presented with if you pitch up at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Their hotchpotch squad is an assortment of has-beens, loanees and young players, while you’ll also be hamstrung by the balance sheets, so there will be little wiggle room in the market. But hey, most of us have taken League Two fodder to Champions League heights so this should be a doddle, right?
5. Inter Miami
You’ll have to fast forward to March 2020, the official date David Beckham’s new side will join Major League Soccer, but it’ll be worth the wait as you’ll be heralding the start of a new era in the United States.
Former Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari has been linked with the vacant position in recent weeks, but why not pip him to the post and be the man to help guide this aspiring club through its formative years? Give it a few seasons as well, and you’ll have a brand spanking new dugout to preside over, with the Miami Freedom Park set to be unveiled in 2022.
6. Union Berlin
1. FC Union Berlin have won a Bundesliga game for the first time in the club's history.
Beating Borussia Dortmund is not a bad way to do it. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/2vXrv9xFeF
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 31, 2019
Since the club’s inception in 1966 they have never reached the Bundesliga but, earlier this year, the Iron Ones became the first-ever club from the former East Berlin region to reach German football’s promised land. They’ve already hit headlines this season after a rather tempestuous encounter with fierce rivals Hertha Berlin, but you will have the chance to be part of history should you take the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei hot seat and guide Union through their first Bundesliga campaign.
7. RB Leipzig
The Red Bulls have just appointed Julian Nagelsmann and are currently flourishing in the upper reaches of Bundesliga football, but under your tactically astute supervision, the frowned-upon German club could break Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga monopoly and clinch a first ever Meisterschale.
The Leipzig squad is oozing with young and cosmopolitan talent, including the likes of Timo Werner, Dayot Upamecano and Christopher Nkunku. There are also a number of talented British tyros on the books, with Ademola Lookman and on-loan Ethan Ampadu currently strutting their stuff in Saxony.
8. Salford City
Salford City FC stake holdings:
• Peter Lim (40%)
• Gary Neville (10%)
• Phil Neville (10%)
• Nicky Butt (10%)
• Paul Scholes (10%)
• Ryan Giggs (10%)
• David Beckham (10%)
The 'Class of 92' now majority share holders. 🔴⚫ https://t.co/nZGHiSjAff
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 23, 2019
If a stateside sojourn didn’t pick your fancy but you were still desperate to work alongside childhood hero Beckham, then you could trade the cantankerous heat of Miami for the more suitable Salford weather. Under the Class of ’92 umbrella, the Ammies reached League Two for the first time in the club’s history last May, and you could be the man responsible for masterminding Salford up the English ladder and one day competing against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Over the summer, Galatasaray transformed into one of the Champions League’s most fun teams. However, they haven’t just been entertaining to watch in Europe’s flagship competition, but also in the Turkish Super Lig.
The Istanbul-based club were beaten 6-0 by Real Madrid on Wednesday night with a squad repleted with household names, including Premier League flop Jean Michael Seri, ex-Liverpool winger Ryan Babel, Steven Nzonzi and Southampton loanee Mario Lemina.
They also boast the likes of former West Ham wideman Sofiane Feghouli, on-loan Brighton forward Florin Andone, Yuto Nagatomo and, of course, Radamel Falcao.
You could equally opt for cross-city rivals Istanbul Basaksehir, who enjoy the viewings of Gael Clichy, Arda Turan, Eljero Elia, Demba Ba, Martin Skrtel, Gokhan Inler and Robinho – a real blend of waning stars.
10. FC Andorra
This one is an interesting project on two counts. Firstly, the Andorran club compete in Segunda Division B, the third tier of Spanish football, after they paid a considerable price to replace CF Reus Deportiu, who were relegated to the Tercera Division for failing to pay its players. And secondly, the club is owned by Gerard Pique. It would be a monumental task to guide Els Tricolors to La Liga, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility.
So, would you be foolish to indulge the fantasy that FC Andorra could one day make it to the big time and actually come up against their owner in a match?