With Football Manager 21 being released in one month, and the Beta potentially a few weeks away, I thought this would be a good time to discuss my plans for the new game.
My initial save plans include a sleeping giant during the Beta period and potentially a little beyond, and a club that’s fallen on severely hard times. I also have several ideas for saves that are a little different that I’ve got in mind further into FM21.
Beta save: AC Milan
I suspect this is a save that many people may be looking to take on in this version of FM, especially given Milan’s strong start in real-life. But for me, this is the ideal way to get accustomed with the game in the first month or so of the new game.
Milan represent everything that I look for in a new FM save. They’ve been underperforming for years, have an exciting young team and have a solid infrastructure to work with. They’re a big team, but there’s also plenty of improvement to be had.
To put Milan’s sleeping giant status in context, only Juventus have won more Serie A titles and only Real Madrid have won the Champions League more times.
The Rossoneri’s 18 Serie A titles is joint-second (with city rivals Inter) to Juventus’ 21. However, their last title came in 2011, which is their only title since 2004. They’ve also only won two titles since 1999, which marked their fifth league championship of the 1990s.
In addition to that, Milan haven’t won a single trophy other than the Italian Supercoppa since 2007, when they won the Champions League, European Super Cup and the World Club Cup.
Furthermore, Milan were my favourite Italian club when I was growing up, courtesy of watching Football Italia with James Richardson on Saturday mornings. Their team through the 1990s contained the likes of Paolo Maldini, Zvonomir Boban, Demetrio Albertini, Patrick Kluivert, George Weah, Leonardo and many more that I loved watching.
So, AC Milan will be my Beta save that helps me to get acquainted with FM21 and gives me something to play while we wait for the full version of the game.
FM21 starter save: Bolton Wanderers
This is another team that I suspect many people may look to start saves with on FM21. But it’s a team that’s gone through severe struggles in recent years and suffered a huge fall from grace that represents a massive FM challenge.
Bolton Wanderers will begin FM21 in League Two, which is the fourth-tier of English football. They are playing at this level for the first time since 1987/88, which was the only season they’ve ever spent in the fourth tier. Not only that, they’ve had a massive turnover in players that means they start the game with a load of players I’ve never heard of.
This makes taking charge of a team that the real-life media made favourites based on absolutely nothing, but will have minimal team cohesion and dynamics. Furthermore, the club’s finances are likely to be severely restricted, given Bolton’s real-life financial issues, and there may well be restrictions on transfers in place.
For me personally, I am a Bolton Wanderers fan, which is one of the main reasons behind choosing them. I haven’t done a save with Bolton in many, many years on FM, purely because it was too depressing. But I think the challenge this time around makes it worthwhile.
The aim of the save will, first of all, be to stabilise Bolton’s free-fall to League Two having been in the Premier League as recently as 2011/12. I think an immediate promotion sounds ambitious, but we’ll aim to get back up within a couple of seasons and focus on the club’s youth development to aim higher up the leagues.
Additional save ideas
Based on this year’s FM experiences, I’ll probably need a few save ideas to supplement the ongoing Bolton save, which I hope will be a long-term game. Here are a couple of other ideas I’ve been working with:
Football Director: I started a YouTube series managing Lille, where I delegated control of transfer activity to my Director of Football. It was fun for a while but the recording died off, so I’m keen to try and revisit the idea. It involves taking over a team that has a good Director of Football and doing everything bar transfers, to see whether we can manage the side to success.
Major League Soccer: I also started a YouTube save with Inter Miami, but didn’t get around to finishing the first season. I’m really keen to tackle the MLS, get my head around how it works and do a long-term save in the league, so this is definitely something I’ll look to take on during the course of the next 12 months.
South American Adventure: I went travelling last year and spent four months in South / Latin America, where I experienced the unbelievable passion that these people have for football. So, with that in mind, I am keen to tackle the continent on FM, as I’ve never done it before. I’m still working on a team to start with, but one option could be Chapecoense, which suffered a tragedy a few years back then got relegated, and sleeping giant Cruzeiro. Or just picking a random team in South America and building a career from there.
Eastern Bloc: A save starting in the lower reaches of an Eastern European country and either building them through the leagues. Or, building my manager’s reputation to take on a bigger club around Eastern Europe to tackle the best from the west. No firm plans for clubs here yet though.
What do you think of my FM21 save plans? Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know which teams you’re hoping to manage on the game! And, if you feel like writing about FM21 then why not join our team?