Football Manager 21 — Five Teams To Pick To Kickstart Your Managerial Career

We select five different football clubs across Europe that are tailored for FM veterans and newcomers who want more challenges.

Football Manager is back! Sports Interactive issued the latest version of the Football Manager game, Football Manager 21 on November 10th, 2020. It is time for managers all around the world to suit your suites, say goodbye to your real life because you will get into the FM21 world.

It is time as well for us, The Amateurs to offer five different teams, to pick with unique challenges, more than what you would usually take. It may not be a very long-term project like helping Maidenhead United from EFL Vanarama League to eclipse Manchester United and show who the real “MU” is, Since it would take you 12 to 20 years-long. Our unique and challenging experience will probably take you three to nine years-long, and it is tailored for seasoned FM veterans or casual players who like to challenge themselves.

Here are five different challenges that you should take in FM21:

Sunderland AFC — Bringing the Light Back

Did you watch the “Sunderland ’Til I Die” series on Netflix? If you do, you would probably know how impactful Sunderland AFC as a football club is to every person in the city. The mood of the city in the day depends on how good the result of their beloved football club is. The fans are always passionate but they demand their club back to their good old days when they played against Manchester United and Liverpool while maintaining their place in English Premier League.

The reality brings them back to life, instead of back to Premier League in the first try, they got relegated to League One. The failure does not want to get away while in the first year of League One they fail to promote to Championship while the second year is canceled due to COVID-19. The stakes have never been higher. The passionate fans become more impassioned, they demand straight promotion to Championship in this third year. Simon Grayson and Chris Coleman have already become the victims of the poor form.

For us, the managers, we view this as an exciting challenge. Bringing the traditional English Premier League club to the English Premier League is the short-term challenge. You will be backed with a £500,000 transfer budget and a £15,000 wage budget, a sufficient amount for one or two decent players in EFL League One. The squad is quite good for the League One team with Aiden McGeady, Will Grigg, and Danny Graham will give you attacking returns. With the right formation, you will score a lot of goals and turn the “Will Grigg’s on fire” chant while playing the game. The Sunderland AFC is also equipped with a superb training facility, excellent youth facility, but average youth recruitment. You may need to ask the board to improve the youth recruitment so you may get some good academy players down the road.

Adding another English Premier League title after the last time in 1936 is the long shot for every manager. While Steward Donald the chairman as mentioned in the sports documentary as well, seek to sell the club may also add more spice to your managerial journey. New owner which may result in a bunch of transfer funds but also can go south and you have to grind out with your academy players. This journey starts with the question, are you the right person to bring the light back to the Stadium of Light?

PSV Eindhoven — Repeat Guus Hiddink

PSV Eindhoven rocked Europe when they reached the UEFA Champions League semi-final in 2005. At that time, The Rood-Witten beat AS Monaco, the previous year finalist, and Olympique Lyonnais while only beaten by AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League semi-final.

Guus Hiddink had Park Ji-Sung, Mark van Bommel, and Alex as integral pieces of his team. So, we name this PSV Eindhoven challenge the “Repeat Guus Hiddink” challenge. While the board wants you to manage PSV Eindhoven to qualify for UCL in the first year, we also challenge you to repeat Guus Hiddink’s achievement as a long-term target. You may also add another challenge to surpass AFC Ajax’s 34th Eredivisie title as a very long-term milestone. Board will back you with a transfer budget amounting to £13,700,000 but no additional wage budget. With that transfer budget, you will be able to add one or two decent players to fulfill board ambition.

PSV Eindhoven had great forwards in recent memories. Romario, Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy, and Arjen Robben played in PSV Eindhoven in their early years of career. Currently, there are wonderkids like Donyell Malen and Mohammed Ihattaren that have exciting potential. It depends on you as a manager whether they will reach their ceiling like those we previously mentioned or follow Ibrahim Afellay’s path which went out too soon and his career went south.

Keeping your wonderkids away from bigger clubs also presents another challenge to tackle. With superb training and youth facilities, it does not seem that hard to nurture wonderkids while the excellent youth recruitment that PSV Eindhoven had will also give you more great talent during your tenure. PSV Eindhoven also combines their young talent with ready-made players to fulfill the short-term target. Mario Gotze, Marco van Ginkel and Denzel Dumfries will give you the consistency that is usually lacking from the young talent. PSV Eindhoven is looking for the next Guus Hiddink, is that you?

Athletic Bilbao — The Beast From Basque

“Every single one of Athletic Club’s players was either born in the Basque Country or brought up here.” As proudly written on Athletic Bilbao’s official website about their philosophy. As far as we know, no other club in the first division of their country can proudly say the same thing as Athletic Bilbao. Los Leones takes pride in their roots and create a code which states that “Athletic Club may only field players who have come through its academy or the academies of other clubs in the Basque Country, or players who were born in the following territories which constitute the Basque Country”.

Athletic Bilbao has won La Liga eight times and Copa del Rey 23 times while still carrying their long-held tradition by only playing players of Basque descent. For a manager who believes in young talent and likes the challenge of nurturing them, nothing more exciting than winning with your home-grown players. Athletic Bilbao present proper challenges for the teacher-type manager. They have superb training and youth facilities and also good youth recruitment. The Board also backed you with a £22,800,000 transfer budget and a £50,000 wage budget to recruit Basque descent players.

Choosing Basque players itself would serve as an exciting challenge to tackle. Is it possible for you to call Ander Herrera who is still in his peak back to San Mamés? Or maybe Javi Martinez who rarely plays in Munich but will give you a good short-term option? Extending your current players’ contract would be another feat to beat. With a limited source of players, you need to maintain the players at your disposal and maximize their potential. Losing your star player to a foreign club like Kepa Arrizabalaga did to Chelsea will hurt your chance to keep improving in La Liga. Raúl García, Iker Muniain, and Iñigo Martínez surely still have a lot to offer for the next few years. Combining them with young talent from the academy will be key to progress.

The boys of San Mamés made a lot of noise under Marcelo Bielsa several years ago. Now they are waiting for another brilliant manager to create havoc in La Liga. Are you the one who will bring the ninth title to Athletic Bilbao?

FC Union Berlin — The Rise of the German Capital

For a footballer, there are several things to consider before moving to other clubs. Does he get more minutes? Does his team compete for the title? How much salary will he get? Those questions are some of the considerations for a footballer before they decide to move. Where will he live has also been a factor before footballers choose their new team, especially for a foreigner. Sean Dyche, the manager of Burnley, stated a few times that it was hard to attract players to play and live in a small town like Burnley. The Athletic also wrote about the struggle of Pablo Fernandes when he first moved to Swansea City. Players, especially foreign players, often prefer to live in a big city.

Capital cities like London, Paris, Rome, and Madrid have the pulling power to draw players to live there and play for the clubs that represent the city. Even Roman Abramovic put London as his consideration to buy Chelsea instead of Liverpool. No wonder those capital cities have big football clubs like Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, AS Roma, Lazio, Atlético Madrid, and Real Madrid. If you want to create a dynasty in a capital city in a European country like Roman Abramovich, FC Union Berlin is the right choice for you.

Die Eisern Union may not be a big name football club but it is your job to make the Berlin-based club well-known. FC Union Berlin’s progress is astonishing. After getting promoted by beating VfB Stuttgart in the relegation playoff, FC Union Berlin finished their first Bundesliga campaign in 11th place with 41 points, the same as their neighbor, Hertha Berlin, but they lost in aggregate goals. Currently, 1. FC Union Berlin is fifth in the Bundesliga with only three points behind Bayer 04 Leverkusen, aiming for a UEFA Champions League qualification.

This sky-rocket rise is unprecedented by many, even in virtual life where the board only demand is for you to avoid relegation in the first year. They back you with a £913,000 transfer budget and only an £8,000 wage budget. You need to build your team carefully in the next few years since the team is full of senior players who could give their best now, but not forever. Veterans like Max Kruse, Robin Knoche, and Loris Karius will give you plenty of surprises if you could put things right.

FC Union Berlin has good training facilities but you may need to ask the board to improve average youth facilities and basic youth recruitment in the future. They offer you a chance to learn and grow together with low expectations at the start. But the challenge to shift the dominance of German football from Bavaria to the capital in the long-term should be very appealing. So, are you ready to take the long-term commitment?

Inter Miami — New Kids on the Block

Despite football for American is American Football and the sport we know football is called soccer in The Land of the Free, managing an MLS club offers you different experiences. Additional regulations that are familiar in the United States apply to the MLS, such as cap space, draft, and the playoffs system.

Inter Miami offer you a clean slate of history and as a pioneer, you can write your name as the first manager who won the league for Inter Miami. Being the manager for the team which is co-owned by the most well-known footballer in the 20th century has its charm. The board will give you a £7,700,000 transfer budget and a £9,000 wage budget to improve the squad that already had Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi. While Higuain guarantees you a lot of goals, Matuidi gives you the much-needed energy in midfield. Inter Miami also has a good prospect in Matias Pellegrini. The club’s great training facilities, youth facilities, and excellent youth recruitment will put you at ease in players’ development.

However, the great facility and foreign talent also resulted in great demands. Likely inspired by their basketball counterpart the Miami Heat, the board asks you to reach the conference final in the first year. Often said the United States of America is a country of opportunities and characterized as the “American Dream”. So, are you ready to start your American Dream?

We hope our recommendation will be able to give you unique experiences in playing FM21. Let us know about your Football Manager journey by hitting us on Twitter @TheAmateursID!

*all stats are correct per November 16th, 2020.

Faiz Ramadhan is a sports enthusiast. Spent his spare time to watch, read and write about sport especially soccer and the NBA. Manchester is his heaven. He follows Premier League religiously and recently watches Bundesliga in more frequently. Football Manager geek. Bandwagon Luka Doncic fan from day one.

You can follow him on Instagram: @faiz_rmdn and on Twitter: @faizrmd for his random rambles.

A sports blog from an amateur’s perspective.

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