Football Manager 2021: The 9 most interesting teams to play
If you want to have the best possible time playing FM21, you're going to want to take charge of one of the most interesting teams.
As players pour hours into Football Manager 2021’s beta, long term save ideas are being scribbled down on notepads all over the world. Many will be looking to fill their FM CV’s with glory, but with so many leagues at your disposal, picking a team can become a harder task than winning the Champions League itself.
Whether you favour youth development, managing superstars or building a dynasty, here are 9 of the most interesting teams to manage in FM21.
Red Bull Bragantino
Série A new boys Bragantino have a singular Paulista title to their name, giving you an opportunity to create your own legacy. The Red Bull model mixed with a league full of wonderkids makes this an exciting save.
Winning the Série A is your first goal before setting your sights on South American’s biggest prize, the Copa Libertadores. After that, winning a Champions League with New York, Salzburg and Leipzig while keeping the same high tempo blueprint throughout the Red Bull family would make this the ultimate journeyman save.
The MLS is a unique experience in Football Manager. With its own set of transfer and contract rules, it can also be quite daunting. Grasp the rules and building an expansion team from scratch can be an appealing playthrough with none more glamorous this year than David Beckham’s Inter Miami.
The Designated Players of former Juventus man Gonzalo Higuaín, Matías Pellegrini and Rodolfo Pizarro offer real quality from the off. Add the experience of Blaise Matuidi and the potential of Julián Carranza and there’s a real chance of walking away with an MLS Cup in your maiden season.
The success and style of Pep Guardiola’s 2010/11 Barcelona side position them as one of the best ever. The possession-based approach inspired many sides to adopt a similar model but few would expect such a style to appear in Cumbria.
Dubbed ‘Barrowcelona’, the side won promotion to the National Football League for the first time in 48 years playing a brand of football rarely seen on the mud-soaked pitches of non-league football. Taking over the reins in League Two the aim is simple, climb the English football pyramid. Reach the top and you can start dreaming of a European final against the side that inspired it all. Doing this while playing an attractive style of football would make that first European Cup even sweeter.
When it comes to youth development in Holland, no team matches Ajax’s conveyor belt of talent. There is one side on the rise in terms of developing exciting young talent in the form of AZ Alkmaar.
Finishing just behind the Amsterdam side last season, AZ shone thanks to the likes of youngsters Calvin Stengs and Myron Boadu. This is a team more than capable of threatening PSV, Feyenoord and Ajax for years to come while attempting to make the European Champions Cup group stages and beyond. Retaining talent for as long as possible while developing the next generation is a must. Do this and you could be topping the Eredivisie for the next decade.
Macarthur FC enter the A-League for the first time on FM21. The club’s initial roster is a mixture of experienced pros like Adam Federici and youngsters like Denis Genreau. With 6 player slots left to fill, you will have to recruit in line with the competition’s strict rule set.
Foreign player restrictions and salary caps make recruitment trickier than usual. The board understands the magnitude of the job, expecting you to avoid finishing bottom of the league each season over the next 5 years. Get it right early on and you could see yourself punching well above your weight before 2026.
Currently sat top of the table in real life, Bodø look set to win their first Eliteserien title. Success domestically has been achieved thanks to developing stars like Jens Petter Hauge and Håkon Evjen via its excellent youth facilities. The real challenge for you awaits in Europe.
The prize money for winning the league is just £1.57m and the 1st place team enter the ECC but only at the Champions Path First Qualifying Round stage. Finally, the domestic season runs June to December meaning your European campaign is spread across two seasons if you make it past the group stage. A tough ask, although Bodø/Glimt might just be the best placed Scandinavian team to pull it off.
The Bundesliga has become an enjoyable league to manage in-recent years. Young talent and forward-thinking managers populate all three playable tiers, with the aim of stopping Bayern München’s dominance every side’s goal. Dortmund seem likely heirs to the throne but a glance across the Ruhr region might lead to a more interesting project.
Schalke have finished closer to the bottom of the Bundesliga than the top in the last two seasons but the facilities and fan base are in place for a revival. A Revier Derby win against fierce rivals Dortmund would be your first port of call before leading Amine Harit and co. back to European football. Winning the clubs first piece of silverware in 9 years would cement you as a legend in Gelsenkirchen.
Easily the most successful club on this list, Milan of 2020 aren’t quite the global powerhouse they once were, but with a first team average age of 24, this is a side built with the future in mind.
The club expects you to win your first Scudetto by the 2023/24 season. That could prove difficult given the dominance of ‘Zebre’, the wealth of talent in Inter’s side as well as Atalanta and Lazio both posing a serious threat. Despite this, the building blocks are in place at the San Siro for you to create a Michelangelo-esq Milan masterpiece.
In FM20, the team at SI added the Canadian Premier League to the database for the first time. 8 teams populate the league, the oldest of which, FC Edmonton, could provide a lengthy and rewarding career. The Eddies are manager less with no club vision at the beginning of the season. After finishing bottom the previous year, your only expectation is that you be competitive, giving you a year to get to grips with the league structure, rules, and teams around the division.
From there beating the MLS’s Canadian teams in the Canadian Championship will be your next goal before taking on the might of Liga MX in the North American Champions League. Going from the bottom of the CPL to NACL champions will be hard but could also be one of your crowning achievements on FM21.