Now that we know the full version of Football Manager 2022 will be released on 9 November, it’s time for all of us to start casting our minds to the future and where we want to spend the next 12 months of virtual management.
I’m personally looking to spend the vast majority of FM22 in the Americas, so I’ll provide a few teams that I think offer interesting managerial opportunities on those continents. I’ll also offer up one or two interesting challenges to take on in each major European nation and other interesting teams around the world worth managing on this year’s installment of the greatest video game in the world.
However, there’ll be no boring picks like “rebuilding Barcelona” here. So, without further ado, here are my 22 teams to manage on Football Manager 2022:
If, like me, you fancy cutting your managerial teeth across North and South America, then here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield, Argentina
Choosing a team in Argentina is a bit tricky as you’re realistically struggling to compete with several big teams, let alone just Boca and River. However, Vélez are an interesting option as they have an exceptional youth recruitment setup and strong training and youth facilities.
But if you fancy an early chance to win Copa Libertadores and immediately produce some of the best talents in the world, then Boca Juniors might be your best bet – especially as they produce the likes of the outrageous Germán Martínez.
There’s a lot of choice in Brazil, but Fluminense (FLU) gets my pick based on its rich history of developing exciting youth prospects. FM21 included the likes of right-back Calegari, centre-back Geovani and wingers Marcos Paulo, Miguel Silveira and Kayky. That said, the likes of Santos (SAN) and Sao Paulo (SPO) have exceptional recruitment, so may be better positioned to produce homegrown talents. And on my Bolton save, the Brazilian side I poached the most youngsters from was Flamengo. So maybe they’re the best option?
Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, Brazil
Sticking with Brazil, if you’re looking for a rebuilding challenge with a difference then four-time national champions and two-time continental champions Cruzeiro (CEC) could be the one for you. The club won the Brazilian title as recently as 2014 but was relegated to the second tier for the first time in its history in 2019 – causing fans to riot. On FM21, it was one of only two teams in the second tier, along with Vitória (VIT), to have good youth recruitment and the only one with secure finances.
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 was recently promoted back to Chile’s top tier and is currently really struggling in real life, so this represents a significant challenge for FM22.
Envigado FC S.A., Colombia
Colombia has become one of the powerhouses of wonderkid development on Football Manager, in addition to having cheap players for European clubs to snap up. One of the most exciting opportunities in Colombia is Envigado, which was only established in 1989 yet has exceptional youth recruitment. That’s in addition to excellent academy coaching and youth facilities, which has helped it develop one of the best academies in South America. So this could be a great starter club for anyone that has their heart set on developing exciting youth products.
I’ve never managed in México but I have been there, so I’m aware of some Mexican clubs. This isn’t a club I’ve heard of, yet Pachuca definitely stand out. That’s because, in FM21 at least, they have outstanding youth recruitment and facilities that, on paper, are better than any other club in the country. So if Mexican youngsters are your thing, then Pachuca are the team for you.
FC Dallas, United States of America
Major League Soccer might be a mystery to many, so what better time to work out what the hell is going on with soccer in the US of A? There’s several good options to take control of in the league, including Atlanta United and LAFC. But my pick would be FC Dallas, who are one of only two founding franchises that have still yet to become MLS champions. Can you finally lead them to glory?
Whoever comes last, United States of America
Part of the MLS intrigue is its draft-based system, which means teams can’t get relegated but potentially have a chance to rebuild when they finish bottom of the league. Well, that’s how the NFL works anyway, but does the same apply in MLS in FM22? Who knows. But find out by taking control of whoever finishes last in the current MLS campaign and try to rebuild.
Defensor Sporting, Uruguay
Uruguay presents an interesting (difficult) challenge based on the dominance of Nacional and Penarol, who’ve won every title bar one since 2008 and all but four since 1990. Danubio have won three titles in that time (2004, 2007 and 2014) and the other was won by Defensor in 2008. The Montevideo side have slipped up a little of late but do provide exceptional youth recruitment and excellent academy coaching (which is better than Penarol but the same as Danubio and Nacional) to begin turning them around.
HNK Rijeka, Croatia
If, like me, you’re an FM player that loves the youth recruitment side of the game and loves a bit of a challenge, then HNK Rijeka may be just the club for you. The club has a strong youth policy and decent infrastructure, which you’ll need to rely on if you’re to take the fight to Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split.
Association de la Jeunesse Auxerroise, France
The task of overcoming Paris Saint Germain may seem so impossible that it doesn’t even seem worth the effort. However, if you’re up for the challenge, then there are several interesting options. AJ Auxerre is a club that were French champions for the first time in 1996 but were relegated in 2012 and are yet to return. In FM21, they had good youth facilities and, potentially importantly, an 18 out of 20 focus on youth importance. It’s hard to know what the finances are going to look like for any club in France outside of PSG at the start of FM22 but I think the likes of Nice, Marseille, Monaco, Lyon and decimated reigning champions Lille all offer an interesting challenge.
Bayer Leverkusen, Germany
Taking the fight to Bayern Munich is one of the biggest challenges in Europe. However, I think the Bundesliga is one of the most interesting and potentially approachable leagues to manage in. There’s plenty of strong clubs and, most appealing of all, the prize money in Germany tends to be pretty substantial, which makes the challenge more feasible. My pick of German challengers would be Leverkusen, who have five German titles but none since 2011. However, they do have a strong youth focus plus 17 youth recruitment and 16 youth facilities and an interesting team to work with, including the relatively young likes of Paulinho, Nadiem Amiri, Edmond Tapsoba, Moussa Diaby and Euro 2020 star Patrick Schick.
Dynamo Dresden, Germany
If you’re keen for a bit of a hipster challenge on FM22 then Germany is definitely the country to head towards. Located in the former East Germany, Dynamo Dresden are traditionally one of the best-supported clubs in the region, especially when it was in the lower reaches of German football. Dynamo’s fans are notoriously passionate, including buying 72,000 tickets for a cup match against Darmstadt despite it being played in front of an empty stadium, in an attempt to support the strugglers.
There are a wealth of other interesting options in Germany, including the most hipster of all St. Pauli, and the the likes of Hamburg, Schalke and Werder Bremen all languishing in the second tier.
For some unknown reason, Sampdoria are really appealing to me as an option for the Beta period of FM22. Sampdoria won the Scudetto for the only time in its history in 1991 then reached the European Cup Final in 1992, which it lost to Barcelona, having won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1990. However, repeating those feats anytime soon is going to be a challenge as their youth recruitment is pretty weak and they don’t have much money. That said, they do have Euro 2020 star Mikkel Damsgaard, who might get a cheeky talent boost, wonderkid Mohammed Ihatarren on loan from Juventus and a decent young goalkeeper in Emil Audero. Plus, there’s the chance to manage evergreen old boy Fabio Quagliarella. Again, I have no idea why this is randomly appealing to me.
Elsewhere in Serie A, you have the hipsters’ favourites of Atalanta, who offer an amazing youth recruitment challenge, and Sassuolo, as well as the likes of AC Milan, Lazio and Roma, who probably offer more immediate opportunities to challenge Inter and Juve.
Feyenoord Rotterdam, Netherlands
This may not sound like the most outrageous of challenges, given Feyenoord are one of the “big three” of Dutch football and were champions of Netherlands in 2017. However, Feyenoord finished in a lowly fifth place in last year’s Eredivisie, behind AZ Alkmaar and Willem II. So they’re clearly a club in much need of change and a new manager with new ideas in FM22. They typically have really strong youth recruitment and facilities in FM too, which should make this a fun challenge for anyone who loves a youth-based rebuild.
Vitória de Guimarães, Portugal
The Portuguese league is absolutely dominated by the big three of Porto, Benfica and Sporting, so looking outside of those three can be a little tricky. However, Vitória Guimarães could be a viable option given their solid youth recruitment and facilities. In real life, the club burned its way through four managers last season before narrowly missing out on Europe, so your job is to stop the rot, provide a little consistency and take the challenge to the big three.
Chertanovo Moscow, Russia
I managed in Russia for the first time ever in my Soviet Surge save on FM21. So I know from experience that Russia can be a significant challenge. However, if you want to make things really tough for yourself, then why not ban yourself from buying players? Chertanovo offers you the ultimate FM challenge of not being allowed to buy players and relying on home-grown talents. Just to make it even harder, the club has dreadful facilities with which to produce said talents. This is the ultimate sado-masochistic FM challenge. On the plus side, you shouldn’t have too many problems abiding by Russia’s policy of only being able to register eight non-Russian players in your squad. Every cloud…
NK Celje, Slovenia
If you want to really step off the well-trodden path on FM22 then get yourself over to little old Celje in Slovenia. I managed them on the Soviet Surge and they were a delightful little club which, in that save at least, had amazing youth recruitment. Indeed, before Vladimir Latunov got his hands on the club’s reigns, all but two of its players had coe through its youth academy and some of them were fantastic little players.
Deportivo La Coruña, Spain
As far as fallen giant challenges go, this may be the biggest one available on FM22. Dépor were Spanish champions back in 2000, Spanish Cup winners in 2002 and reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2004. But have fallen on truly dark days since. They narrowly avoided relegation from La Liga in 2016, only to drop to the second tier two years later and, another two years later, were relegated to the third tier of Spanish football. Last season they failed to get promoted, which means they remain in the third tier. This is a club well and truly in the doldrums, so restoring them back to the big time, let alone challenging for major trophies, is one hell of a challenge.
There are, of course, many more challenges across Spain, but clubs I’d be particularly interested to manage include Real Betis, Mallorca and Athletic Bilbao for the youth production focus.
Grasshopper Club Zürich, Switzerland
Grasshopper are the most successful club in the history of Swiss football with 27 national titles. However, they haven’t won the title since 2003 and have been well and truly usurped by the likes of Young Boys and Basel. They were even relegated to the second tier in 2019 but did gain promotion last season, which puts them back into position to move back towards their glory days. A bonus in that respect is that Grasshopper have fantastic youth recruitment and facilities. Although you might want to keep an eye on the finances.
Challenges in the Rest of the World
America and Europe aren’t doing it for you? No problem, because if youth recruitment is your game then there are plenty of other options available to you on FM22.
Cape Town Spurs, South Africa
In FM21 at least, South Africa is the only playable league in Africa. So if youth recruitment is your focus then Cape Town Spurs are your team, with their 17 youth facilities and 18 youth recruitment. However, if you’re looking to poach youngsters then AMEC Mimosas in Ivory Coast have 19 youth recruitment, 20 youth importance, 17 youth coaching and 15 youth facilities and Académie JMG de Bamako in Mali boasts 15 youth recruitment and 17 youth facilities.
Suwon Samsung Bluewings, South Korea
The name alone makes it well worth managing the Bluewings. But if that alone didn’t do it for you, then how about 18 youth recruitment? If Asian wonderkids are what you’re looking to develop, then get yourself over to Suwon.