Aside from the two clubs I know I’ll be starting saves with in Football Manager 2021, I have a few other long-term save ideas in mind for which the starting team is up in the air.
These include a Director of Football save and regional saves across Eastern Europe, South America and the United States. So I thought it’d be fun to jot down – mainly to ensure that I don’t forget – some teams that could be interesting starting points.
Director of Football
The premise for this save is to take charge at a club that has one of the world’s best Directors of Football (DoF). I previously attempted one of these saves in FM20 with Lille, but it didn’t get too far as it was basically impossible to beat PSG. However, I’m tempted to give it another go this year.
Said DoF will be delegated control of all transfer activity, meaning we’re not allowed to approach players, tap them up, let alone them. I’ll potentially allow myself to advise the DoF about the kind of players I want or need, but other than that it’s up to them to buy and sell.
My focus as Manager, or Head Coach technically, is purely on picking the team and tactics, running training, managing players etc… A few clubs that could be good for this save include:
The world’s greatest Europa League team also have a pretty darn good DoF in Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo, aka Monchi. They also have a decent side but a sizeable challenge up against their considerably more powerful Spanish rivals.
Borussia Dortmund, Germany
Michael Zorc is one of the best DoFs out there, and Dortmund are one of the most exciting young teams on FM21. I have managed Dortmund in FM20, but only ten years or so into the future. So this is definitely an option I’m eyeing up for this save.
Dynamo Kyiv, Ukraine
This overlaps a little with the save idea below by branching into the Eastern Bloc, but Kiev are a big club with an excellent DoF in Eugene Krasnikov.
This one goes a little under the radar, but Lazio also have a strong Director of Football in Albanian Igli Tare. They also have a capable squad, including the likes of Luis Alberto and goal machine Ciro Immobile, that’s threatened to challenge Juventus in recent years.
Eastern Europe adventure
Eastern Europe is a region that I have my eye on for a save in FM21 as I’ve tried multiple times to start saves in various countries but always got bored very quickly.
No team from Eastern Europe has been champions of Europe since Red Star Belgrade won the European Cup (which tells you it was a long time ago) in 1991. And only two Eastern European teams have ever won the competition, with the other being Steaua Bucharest in 1986. Realistically, it’s going to be difficult to lift a side to that level, but I know from watching certain YouTubers that it can be done.
However, I’ll be looking to stick with my ethos of taking over teams that have either fallen on hard times but have plenty of potential or offer an exciting challenge, rather than take over a side that’s the best in their country. A few teams I’m considering are:
Alania Vladikavkaz, Russia
Alania is an interesting proposition as the club won the Russian title back in 1995, and have just been promoted back to the Russian second tier. They’ve done very little in the last 25 years, but it could be fun to try and lead them back to the big time.
Turkey is definitely a country I have never managed on Football Manager and I guess it just about counts as being in Eastern Europe. I’m not a fan of going into one of the big Turkish sides, but one that’s caught my eye is Altinordu, which has barely featured in the top tier but has an increasing focus on developing local youth talent. It also has a long-term goal of competing in the Turkish Super League with a side comprised entirely of young locally developed players.
Chertanovo Moscow, Russia
If you’re going to head to a new country then you as may well make it really difficult and ban yourself from buying players. I mean, it’s not like we’ll know who any of the players are anyway! But, Chertanova offers the supreme challenge of not being allowed to buy players and relying on home-grown talent despite having dreadful facilities. Oh boy…
FK Metta, Latvia
As recently as 2018, FK Metta played home games at the Riga Hanza Secondary School Stadium. Which says a lot about the club. It has now upgraded to a 10,000-seater stadium but, interestingly, remains a University-backed club and, apparently, has the youngest squad in Europe.
Fudbalski Klub Rad, Serbia
Only two teams have ever won the Serbian top flight, which makes the league one of the toughest challenges out there if you don’t take control of Red Star or Partizan. The likes of FK Vojvodina, Cucaricki and Radnicki are on the level below but a side I’m looking at is the brilliantly named FK Rad. They have good facilities but only adequate recruitment, which is pretty standard for the Serbian league.
KGHM Zaglebie Lubin, Poland
Zaglebie Lubin was founded in 1945 by a group of football enthusiasts whop were forced out of their homes in Eastern Poland during World War 2. The club has been Polish champions twice, in 1991 and 2007, but has excellent youth recruitment and great youth facilities. Therefore, this presents an interesting option for a fairly small club to begin an Eastern European save with.
MTK Budapest, Hungary
MTK was one of the great Eastern European footballing powers during the 1950s and 1960s. They were the region’s first club to reach a European final in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1964. and won 21 Hungarian titles in the 20th Century. However, they’re now in Hungary’s second tier and only serbia have two national titles since 1999.
PFC Sochi, Russia
Who doesn’t love a team with dodgy Russian dealings and an outrageously rich owner? OK the dodgy bit was a wild assumption, but FC Sochi have in existence since 2018 when Dynamo St. Petersburg relocated, making this the only professional club in the city. They’re also owned by an oligarch called Boris Rotenberg, which might mean they have cash to burn, and they’re an affiliate of Zenit St. Petersburg.
Puskas Akademia, Hungary
Any team that takes the name of the great Ferenc Puskas has to be an exciting prospect. Furthermore, the team has a strong focus on youth recruitment and I’ve never managed in Hungary before. This is definitely the kind of club that could be a great starter team for the save.
South America adventure
Another challenge I’m keen to take on in this year’s game is to tackle South America. I don’t think I’ve successfully managed any South American side ever in FM and some of their leagues are pretty different (I’m looking at you, Argentina).
The challenge here would be to start at a smaller side somewhere in South America and manage in multiple countries, with the end-goal of winning the Copa Libertadores. A few times I have in mind as interesting challenges include:
Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield, Argentina
Choosing a team in Argentina is a bit of a tricky one, as you’re realistically struggling to compete with the traditional big five, let alone Boca and River. However, Vélez are an interesting option as they have an exceptional youth recruitment setup and strong training and youth facilities.
Envigado was only established in 1989 but, on FM20 at least, has excellent youth recruitment, academy coaching and youth facilities. Indeed, it’s considered to have one of the best academies in South America. So this could be a great starter club with a focus on building exciting youth products.
Real San Andrés, Colombia
Another very new club to football generally, Real San Andrés isn’t even in Colombia. Indeed, the club is based on the Caribbean island of San Andrés but competes in the second tier of Colombian football. The club was initially founded in 2006 as Real Santander after previous club Real Floridablanca went bust. Financial difficulties in Santander forced the club into the pretty drastic move of jetting off to the Caribbean, which sounds more than a little bit dubious. Count me in…
Santiago Wanderers, Chile
Santiago Wanderers was founded by British ex-pats in 1892 and is the oldest football team not only in Chile but all of Latin America. Despite the name, Santiago Wanderers are not based in the Chilean capital of Santiago, but the nearby seaside town of Valparaíso. The club has just been promoted back to Chile’s top tier so could present somewhat of a challenge for FM21.
Institución Atlética Sud América, Uruguay
I know very little about the Uruguayan football system, but a team named after the continent it’s located in has to be pretty cool. The club is in the second tier of Uruguayan football, which it has won on seven occasions, and has other achievements to its name. Other than its awesome actual name.
Major League Soccer
I imagine most hardened Football Manager players have, at some point, delved into the unknown of the USA’s Major League Soccer. I attempted it briefly in FM20, with Inter Miami, but didn’t get too far with it for various reasons. However, this year I’m determined to try and figure it out and at least finish a season.
With that in mind, here are a few teams I’m considering:
FC Dallas, USA
Dallas have been a real surprise package in MLS this season, in addition to Philadelphia surprisingly sitting pretty at the top of the league. But Dallas’ performances suggest there’s decent talent to work with in Texas,. plus they’re one of only two MLS founder franchises not to have won the MLS Cup (yet).
Inter Miami, USA
Potentially an obvious choice given I started managing them last year, but with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi now signed up for Miami, I think this is a really exciting option.
Whoever finishes bottom of MLS in 2020
One of the intrigues of MLS is that its draft-based system means that teams can’t relegated and potentially have a chance to build when they finish bottom of the league. Do they get better prospects when they finish bottom like in the NFL? Honestly, I have no clue. But I think it could be fun to take the side that finishes bottom of the current MLS campaign and try to rebuild it.
Are there any teams in Eastern Europe, MLS and South America that you’re looking to manage but aren’t on this list? Let me know!