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I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the release of Football Manager 2023. Scheduled to be released in November 2022, Sports Interactive yet again have me counting down the days until its launch. With the winter World Cup taking part in the same month as FM23’s launch, it’s definitely going to be a festive season of football, football, and more football.
Like with all new managerial simulators, whether it’s Football Manager, or FIFA career mode, one of the most difficult parts is deciding on a team to be. Those FM veterans out there will agree with me, choosing which team to manage is the hardest battle you’ll face. With so many nations and leagues available on the game, there’s an overwhelming number of options available to players. The beauty of Football Manager is that every user is different, and there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to selecting a team.
Newbies to FM will typically load up the game and immediately take the reins of the team they support for their first save. Nothing wrong with this option whatsoever, in fact, if you are new to the game, I’d probably encourage it. However, when you’ve been playing the game for the best part of 10 years, managing your team over and over can get a bit repetitive.
More experienced Football Manager players will embark on an adventurous journeyman save, building up their managerial CV from scratch, managing in some extremely niche countries with players you probably didn’t know even exist. Another great option.
I have been guilty in the past of sitting on the main menu screen pondering which team to be for an unhealthy amount of time. Clicking on the team, reviewing the squad, only to talk myself out of managing them for the most minute of reasons.
If you are like the past me, indecisive when it comes to picking your Football Manager saves, then this article is for you. From Saudi money to resurrecting a fallen giant, this article suggests four potential save ideas that we feel will make for both a challenging and entertaining managerial adventure.
Other than creating your own club, Newcastle are the closest that you’ll get to a blank canvas on FM23. I think when the Magpies’ takeover was completed, many expected the new Saudi owners to go gung-ho in the transfer market, signing anyone and everyone available to them. Whilst they have spent larger sums than the pennies that the Newcastle fans become accustomed to under Mike Ashley, Eddie Howe has been pretty suave in the market.
There is a clear recruitment strategy in place at St James Park, with the signings of Sven Botman and Alexander Isak showcasing their intentions to build for the future. Given the fact that Callum Wilson’s hamstrings are made of marshmallows, and Chris Wood can’t hit a barn door with a banjo, a new striker was essential for the Magpies. From an FM perspective, these signings are absolutely perfect. In past versions of the game, both these players have had a high potential rating, developing into world-class players in many different saves.
Having a set-piece specialist on FM is very underrated, and with Kieran Trippier in your ranks, that’s exactly what you’d have. Capable of delivering the ball on a sixpence, the former Burnley and Tottenham full back will rack up the assists to Newcastle’s new six-foot-four striker.
Then there’s Wilson, who for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of facing him on past FM’s is a right pain in the proverbial. There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Callum Wilson scoring the winner against you on Football Manager. Not to go all Sean Dyche on you, but a 442 formation with Allan Saint-Maximin on the wing supplying balls to Wilson and Isak could actually break the game.
Let’s be honest though, you aren’t choosing Newcastle as your save of choice for their current crop of players. If you decide to head up North, it’s most definitely for the money. New Saudi owners have money to burn, and I’m sure your arrival would be greeted with a tasty transfer kitty. Remember though, investment brings higher expectations. The Saudi owners may be able to afford to splurge £200 million on players, but they will be looking for a return on their investments.
The challenge will be to guide the Magpies into Europe within the first couple of seasons, later competing with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool for the Premier League title. Newcastle’s highest ever finish in the Premier League finish era was in the 1996/97 season, where they finished in 2nd place. Can you do one better?
I will be the first to admit, I am not usually too keen on managing an international side on Football Manager, as I normally end up spending more time simulating than I do actually playing. However, this year’s edition of FM will be completely different. With the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, it provides an excellent opportunity to get straight into tournament action without the need to sit frantically fast-forwarding through the months of domestic football.
Managing internationally differs enormously from club-level management. I’d argue it’s more difficult. There is obviously no transfer market to improve the squad like there is in club football. You also have limited opportunities to train players to play a certain position or role, making it hard to implement your tactics. Whilst in club football you buy players to fit your preferred system, in international management the players dictate the system used.
Now truthfully, managing any of the nations competing at the 2022 World Cup will make for a fun short-term save, but managing England also makes for a compelling narrative. In the 2018 World Cup, the Three Lions crashed out of the tournament at the semi-final stage, losing 2-1 to Croatia. At Euro 2020, well technically 2021, England went one step further, reaching the final before being defeated by Italy in the cruellest of fashions. A loss that I still haven’t fully recovered from. *Insert cliché statement about England’s abysmal penalty shootout history*
From semi-finalists in 2018 to finalists in 2021, a winners medal is the next logical step right….
If you do decide to take the reins of the England national team, you’ll inherit a ridiculously talented squad. Harry Kane will most definitely be the first name on your team sheet for obvious reasons. It pains me to say, but the Spurs forward is undoubtedly the best striker in the world at this current moment. I’d imagine that Declan Rice would be a close second behind Kane in your England starting lineup, with the West Ham star becoming a pivotal player in the Three Lions midfield since his Ireland U-turn.
With Kyle Walker, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Kieran Trippier all vying for a starting berth, fixing the right-back conundrum is one of the more difficult choices you’ll have to make. All world-class players with different attributes, it’s not neccesarily the worst position to be in as a manager when these are your options.
With favourable odds, a talented and youthful squad, and the world’s best striker at your disposal, who Football Manager also rate very highly, your FM23 managerial career could get off to the perfect start. The Lionesses have recently brought football home, can you keep it there?
It wouldn’t be an article about interesting saves if there wasn’t a fallen giant included, would it? A real feel-good kind of save, bringing a club from the depths of despair and restoring them back to the glory days of their past. A popular fallen giant save this year will undoubtedly be Derby County, who have Mel Morris to thank for their demotion to League One. As I’ve already suggested an English team, and the England national team, I decided to look further afield for a fallen giant abroad.
A bit of research later and I landed on Saint-Étienne. Once a dominant force in French football, the Greens now find themselves in Ligue 2 after losing on penalties to Auxerre in the 2021/22 relegation play-offs. It’s not the first time that they’ve found themselves in the second tier of French football, but that arguably makes their recent history worse. Financial scandals, inconsistent performances, and poor management are all to blame for Saint-Étienne’s spiralling decline from their golden era in the 60s and 70s.
Not really selling it at the minute am I. What if I was to tell you that the Greens are one of the best clubs in world football when it comes to developing youth. Wesley Fofana has recently made a £75 million move to Chelsea, but it was at Saint-Étienne that he made his big breakthrough. The same could be said for William Saliba, who is being widely lauded by Premier League fans for his performances in the centre of Arsenal’s defence. Whilst opinion dividing forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang didn’t technically spend his youth career at the club, it was at Saint-Étienne that the Gabonese striker made a name for himself. The Chelsea striker played a key role for the Greens in their 2013 Coupe de la Ligue triumph, the most recent honour in the club’s trophy room.
With excellent in-game youth facilities and one of the highest squad values in Ligue 2 on FM23, you have the perfect platform to cash in on some of the older players in favour of investing in youth. There is nothing more satisfying as a Football Manager player than opening up your youth intake and seeing multiple prospects, and at Saint-Étienne that is bound to be the case. Their academy setup is arguably the main reason they have stayed afloat, consistently churning out top-quality players that can be sold on for a profit.
The short-term challenge is to return the club back to France’s top flight, and the squad you’ll inherit are well equipped to do so at the first time of asking. Difficult to imagine given their current situation, but Saint-Étienne holds the joint record for the most Ligue 1 titles, sharing the honour with Paris Saint-Germain. Your long-term goal will be to restore the title-winning days that the Greens experienced in the 60s and 70s and overtake PSG as the dominant force in French football. A rebuild is definitely needed at the club, which is often music to the ears of FM players looking for a challenging save to get stuck into.
Primarily known for its Formula One connections, the city of Monza will also entertain top-division football in the 2022/23 season. For the first time in the club’s 110-year history, AC Monza are a Serie A side. Former Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi completed his takeover of the club in 2018, impressively guiding them from the third tier of Italian football to the first tier in just four seasons.
Whilst Monza are widely expected to be embroiled in a relegation battle in their inaugural campaign, their wealthy owner has shown significant ambition in the summer transfer window. Previously lacking top-flight experience amongst the squad, Berlusconi spent roughly £40 million in the transfer window, acquiring several players with lots of Serie A know-how.
The signing of Andrea Ranocchia on a free transfer, along with the loan signings of Pablo Mari, Armando Izzo, and Marcon have significantly strengthened the Monza defence. Add to this the £3.6 million purchase of 21-year-old Italian Cagliari centre-back Andrea Carboni and you have a solid foundation to build on. On FM22, Carboni developed into a top-quality left-footed centre-back and is bound to be just as highly rated by the Football Manager scouts in the upcoming game.
It wasn’t just the defensive area that Monza strengthened, with their midfield also seeing significant investment. Inter Milan midfielder, Stefano Sensi, was brought in on a season-long loan. Another experienced Serie A player, Sensi was a go-to signing for many mid-table sides on FM22. Partnering him in the Monza midfield is Matteo Pessina, who is certainly the club’s best acquisition, if not Serie A’s best acquisition, ahead of the 2022/23 campaign. Signed on a season-long loan with an obligation to buy, the Euro 2020 winner is Monza through and through having come through the club’s academy. Returning as a hero, Pessina has immediately been instilled as the club captain and will no doubt be their star man.
Managing Monza on FM23 is definitely on my to-do list. An interesting challenge with ambitious owners and a squad good enough to survive immediate relegation, the Biancorossi hotseat presents an excellent opportunity to create Serie A history at the club.
The vast majority of the squad are Italian, so the save could be made even more difficult by limiting yourself to recruiting players trained in Italy. Serie A have strict registration rules when it comes to players outside the EU, so why not test your scouting skills, as well as your managerial skills, by only signing home-grown talents to develop.
Preorder Football Manager 2023 through our friends at Fanatical and get 30% off by using the code FM23DAILY.