Football Manager 2020: 15 clubs you should manage to challenge yourself

8 Sep

Football Manager 2020 is just around the corner so boot up your laptop and get ready to while away the hours trying to unearth wonderkid regens from Venezuela.

Upon release, we fully intend to spend our time tweaking tactics and instructions in hope of finding the ultimate way to beat opponents in the hyper-realistic management simulation game.

It’s no fun just being Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus, or Bayern Munich, though. You need to really test your skills every now and again.

Barcelona superstar Antoine Griezmann, amongst many others, is a fan of the series and regularly posts images of his Arsenal save – he clearly loves a challenge too!

But who are the clubs you should be considering to manager as we await the game’s release?

Here talkSPORT.com has taken a look at 15 teams we reckon will really test your skills.

Chelsea (Premier League)

Think you can do better than Frank Lampard? Try it out for yourself.

The club legend is currently dealing with long-term injuries to three starlets, a two-window transfer ban, and the loss of Eden Hazard.

Lampard’s start to life at Stamford Bridge has been mixed but how will you do?

Will you stick with Kurt Zouma, will you pick Cesar Azpilicueta? Give it a go.

Frank Lampard has had an interesting start to life as Chelsea boss
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Athletic Bilbao (LaLiga)

It’s far too easy just being Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico in Spain. You need to make things tricky.

Why not become boss in Bilbao?

You’re going to have to be an ace at handling young stars as Athletic Club can only sign players with a Basque heritage or Spaniards no older than 16.

The talent of Inaki Williams, Iker Munian, Yeray, and Inigo Martinez will help to start out.

Aymeric Laporte and Kepa Arrizabalaga have both played for Athletic Club in recent times

FC Koln (Bundesliga)

Winners of the first ever Bundesliga title in 1963, Effzeh have only won one more since, back in 1977/78, so can you end the drought?

They were promoted back to the top flight last season, winning the second division in Germany.

The managed to retain stars like Timo Horn and Jonas Hector, amongst others, while Simon Terodde was prolific last season – can he cut it in the top flight for you after previous first division struggles?

FC Koln have a passionate fanbase
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AC Milan (Serie A)

Financial Fair Play breaches mean the Italians won’t be playing in Europe this season, despite finishing fifth last term.

There’s been another overhaul with their squad as Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao, and Ismael Bennacer joining permanently, while Ante Rebic signs on loan with an option to buy.

Out go several former first-teamers like Riccardo Montolivio, Ignazio Abate, Cristian Zapata, as well as youngster Patrick Cutrone, along with several loanees.

Can you get them back into the Champions League where they belong?

Can you get the best out of Hakan Calhanoglu?
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Monaco (Ligue 1)

A topsy-turvy 2018/19 saw things get grim on the Cote d’Azur last season and not even Thierry Henry could help them.

It’s a squad which has a mixture of young talents and experienced professionals like Cesc Fabregas, Naldo and Kamil Glik.

The forward line is tasty with Henry Onyekuru, Wissam Ben Yedder, Islam Slimani and Jean-Kevin Augustin joining Stevan Jovetic, Gelson Martins, and Keita Balde.

But can you get them back near the top of the table competing with Paris Saint-Germain and the best in Europe?

Can Slimani be the key to glory on the south coast of France?
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Ajax (Eredivisie)

How do you cope with losing two of the world’s most exciting talents?

By managing the Dutch giants you can put yourself in Erik ten Hag’s shoes.

Will you place faith in talents like Perr Schuurs, Kik Pierie, Sergino Dest, or go with experienced stars?

Can you use the club’s new wealth to develop even more wonderkids? Or will you splash the cash on stars from around the globe? It’s a test of shrewdness and being savvy with your finances.

Can you do better than Erik ten Hag?
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Aberdeen (Scottish Premiership)

Sir Alex Ferguson was the last man to hand The Dons a league title in Scotland back in 1985.

When Rangers weren’t in the top flight recently, they couldn’t capitalise either.

But with you in charge, well, anything could happen.

Sam Cosgrove can get you goals, but can you sort out a leaky defence and put a title bid back on the cards?

Deportivo La Coruna (LaLiga 2)

For 20 years, the Spaniards were one of the top teams in the top flight but now they’re a mid-table second tier side.

Things have changed in Galicia but you can turn the clock back on Football Manager 2020.

You will need to find your own answers to Roy Makaay, Djalminha, Noureddine Naybet, Donato and Mauro Silva.

But if you can, you’ll be a fine gaffer.

Wakaso Mubarak in action for Deportivo La Coruna this season
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Auxerre (Ligue 2)

Guy Roux became player-manager of the club back in 1961 when they were in the fourth tier.

Across 40 years he took them to the top-flight and eventually helped them win the Ligue 1 title in 1996, as well as earning them four Coup de France trophies.

Now, though, they’re back in Ligue 2 and have been for seven campaigns.

The squad needs a little bit of TLC and if you get things right you could be a club legend, just like Roux.

Guy Roux is a true football legend
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St Pauli (2. Bundesliga)

Everyone loves the left wing ideologies of the Hamburg natives but, despite their global brand, they haven’t been in the first tier since 2011.

This year they even have some Brits in their squad, as Matt Penney and James Lawrence join their ranks.

You might also remember ex-Arsenal man Ryo Miyaichi and former Manchester United academy ace Mats Moller Daehli.

Will you get them promoted ahead of cross-city rivals Hamburg in 2019/20?

St Pauli star Finn Ole Becker holds off a challenge
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Venezia (Serie B)

A bridge too far? Not for someone as skilled in Football Manager as you.

Why not head to the lagoon this year and help the Floating City into Serie A?

Venezia were handed a stunning reprieve this summer as they were set to be sinking into Serie C.

Instead, with Palermo demoted to Serie D due to funding issues, Gli Arancioneroverdi hung onto a spot in the second tier.

This one is a fun task, if you choose to accept it.

Youssef Maleh in action for Venezia
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Bolton Wanderers (League One)

The Trotters were on the brink just days ago but their salvation now presents you with a real test of Football Manager.

Once in the UEFA Cup playing Bayern Munich, the club has fallen on hard times. Get them back there and you’ll be a local hero forever.

Football Ventures have completed their takeover of Bolton
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Salford City (League Two)

Fancy having the Class of 92 as your bosses? Why not pitch up at Moor Lane and try to meet their expectations.

You’ll likely to have to adhere to a few philosophies but that’s never stopped you before has it?

Play attacking football, vie for promotion, and bringing through young talent are likely to be among your immediate tasks.

David Beckham and Gary Neville in the stands during the Vanarama National League Play Off Final between Salford City and AFC Fylde at Wembley
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Chorley (National League)

Promoted last season, the Magpies play at Victory Park.

And victories will be needed to keep them in the National League, let alone for a shot at the Football League.

This one is for lower league management veterans and not for the faint-hearted.

Shanghai SIPG (Chinese Super League)

Fancy having Hulk, Oscar, and Marko Arnautovic at your disposal over in the CSL?

It’s still tough to win the title with Paulinho and Anderson Talisca inspiring Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, so you need to be at the top of your game.

Goalkeeping coach Ian Walker will be there to lend you a hand.

Can you help Arnautovic win a trophy?
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Serie B chiefs insist the league is NOT suspended despite ongoing row over number of teams in the division

18 Sep

Serie B officials have rubbished claims that the second tier of Italian football has been suspended.

Stories emerged of the weekend’s games in the second tier not going ahead due to the ongoing row about how many teams should be involved.

Pro Vercelli appeared to be getting a Serie B reprieve after getting relegated last season

After a verdict in a court in Rome on Tuesday, Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) official Franco Frattini told Italian radio the league had been suspended.

A statement later in the day on the league’s website, though, began: “Serie B is not suspended, the championship continues.”

Serie B has had 22 teams since 2004 but three clubs – Avellino, Bari and Cesena – went bankrupt over the summer and it was decided to continue this season without replacing them.

This immediately prompted several legal challenges from teams that were either relegated last season or just missed out on promotion.

It had seemed that these challenges had failed earlier when CONI, the organisation which governs almost all sport in the country, rejected them but a regional court has now upheld an appeal against that decision from Serie C side Pro Vercelli.

Frattini, the president of CONI’s sports justice court and a legal expert and politician who has twice served as Italy’s foreign minister, told inBlu Radio that football gives him more headaches than the mafia trials he has to preside over.

“The new development is that the court in Lazio, as well as suspending the ruling, has also suspended the league,” said Frattini.

As a result of this new ruling, he said CONI would re-examine the issue of whether the league should be a competition for 19 or 22 clubs on Friday and, if the decision is for 22, it will decide which three should be brought in on Monday.

The league described Frattini’s remarks as “improvident” and insisted this weekend’s fixtures will be played as normal.

“Such is the confusion that there is even someone talking about the suspension of Serie B,” the statement read. “Improvident in this regard are today’s statements by (CONI) president Franco Frattini.

“Instead the championship continues as planned because that’s what millions of fans want. There is no prohibition provision that ordered the suspension.”

The Veneto-based AS Cittadella currently lead Serie B after three wins from three games. Serie C, meanwhile, has yet to even start.

The league statement continued: “The precautionary ruling did not say anything in relation to the Serie B championship, otherwise it would have had to be suspended for the third matchday, which was played as scheduled.

“(This is) untruthful news that is damaging on an organisational and economic level and to the image of sponsors, partners, fans and clubs.”

Serie B suspended until further notice after Serie C clubs triumph over Italian authorities

18 Sep

Chaos is sweeping Italian football after an appeal court suspended Serie B until further notice.

This is due to an ongoing row over whether the second tier should have 19 or 22 teams in it.

Pro Vercelli were relegated from the second tier last season but look set for a Serie B reprieve

And although the court has ruled in favour of club Pro Vercelli the row is set to continue.

Earlier this month it was decided the league would continue with just 19 sides after the financial collapse of three clubs.

Bari, Avellino and Cesena’s money woes left the division short.

However, third tier clubs Siena, Novara, Catania, Ternana and Pro Vercelli all protested the move, pleading for three clubs to be promoted.

The case appeared to be resolved when the CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) judging panel said their appeal was inadmissible.

But on Friday Pro Vercelli got the all-clear from the TAR tribunal to suspend the CONI ruling.

And it has now been decided fixtures will be suspended in both leagues until a final decision is made on October 9.

There have already been four gameweek’s in Serie B while the ruling will delay the start of the Serie C/Lega Pro campaign.