Football Manager 2024: Six challenging saves as release date announced - including Chelsea and Wolves
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Football anoraks, gaming geeks and Antoine Griezmann all have cause for celebration – Football Manager 2024 has been officially announced and will be released on 6 November this year, ready to consume all of our spare hours once more.
Aside from the usual database update, the new edition promises updated transfer systems, reworked set piece and plenty of tweaks and updates to make sure it gives armchair managers everywhere the best possible experience as they lead Gloucester City to the Champions League, or simply try to make their favourite team halfway competitive.
But which job should you take first? Which save would provide the most interesting challenge this season? Let’s take a look at a few clubs who would, for various reasons, provide an interesting challenge in this year’s game…
Their best players being sold to service a dodgy financial situation and the total absence of a proven striker up front mean that the real-life Wolves are starting this season with the odds stacked against them – and stepping into Gary O’Neil’s shoes should offer a suitably stimulating challenge for anyone who likes to take a top-tier underdog and transform them into thoroughbreds.
They’re also probably the only team in the game whose board actively instructs you to sign as many Portuguese players as possible, something we assume will be the same for this year’s edition, and that’s a twist which keeps placating the chairman interesting. Keeping them up year one will be a good test of a manager’s mettle, and then you get the opportunity to slowly build them up into a side worthy of being remembered alongside the Wolves side who were dubbed the unofficial “Champions of the World” in the Fifties.
Speaking of sides with plenty of history but a lot of problems at present, perennial Europa League champions Sevilla offer the chance to balance a Champions League campaign with staving off relegation – not a common scenario in the game or real life.
At the time of writing, Sevilla sit bottom of the putative La Liga table with zero points from their opening games, and looked a lot like going down for large parts of the 2022/23 season before they got enough of a new manager bounce to propel them into mid-table and even to some silverware, but the squad is still deeply patchy. Sorting them out and trying to break Real Madrid and Barcelona’s dominance of the division should be a lot of fun. Plus you get the side quest of trying to keep Sergio Ramos on the pitch and out of the referee’s book.
Usually, managing the biggest teams with the biggest bank accounts is fairly boring in Football Manager. It’s simply too easy to buy everyone you like and boss the other big teams about after a couple of seasons. But Chelsea could be a different kettle of fish – rich but likely to have major problems balancing the books to meet FFP requirements in future years and with a massive squad full of new players, most of whom play on the wing.
Trying to push for top four while keeping a bloated squad of positionally overlapping players happy should be a decent test of your man-management skills, and trying to keep on the right side of the financial watchdogs when you do make the Champions League will keep things tricky in the long haul, too.
Once one of the greatest teams in the world and home to double Ballon d’Or winner Kevin Keegan, Hamburg have fallen on hard times in recent years and find themselves stuck in the German second tier. In real life they somehow come close to promotion every year and blow it at the last minute – can you break the cycle?
Even if you can get them back into the Bundesliga, there would still be plenty of work to do to get Hamburg back to their former glories – the German top tier is a competitive environment and even the best players usually take a good few years to overhaul Bayern Munich, who tend to dominate the division in the game just as they do in the real world. A cracking long-term save option.
Speaking of fallen giants, it wasn’t so long ago that Lyon were the dominant force in French football – but now they’re in trouble and sit bottom of the Ligue 1 table as I type, have sacked their manager already and even had their players go through the humiliation of receiving a talking-to on the pitch from an ultra with a megaphone.
This is a sinking ship in desperate need of turning around, but also a team with some of the best youth facilities in the world – can you stabilise a dodgy squad and keep the demanding fans happy for long enough to reap the benefits of a steady trickle of world class youngsters? And can you do well enough to keep them at the club in the long term? Even if you can, Paris Saint-Germain cast a long shadow over the French league and overhauling them would be another very tough task indeed.
The real life Wednesday have finally recovered from the ignominy of relegation to League One but have celebrated their return to the second tier by sacking their popular manager, Darren Moore, and overhauling their squad in what appears to have been all the wrong ways, at least based on how badly they’ve started the new season.
A tough relegation battle looms for the Owls, but if you can get through that then you have a club with a big fan base and a stadium to match, so the resources are there to turn them into a Premier League club over time – but can you sort the team out and navigate a perilous boardroom well enough to get the chance?