This article takes a look at a number of clubs ranging from the lower divisions to established sides that haven’t had success in recent years but have been amongst the footballing elite in years gone by.
Whether you are looking to resurrect a fallen giant, inspire a minnow to glory, or just looking to try something different, read on to discover some new ideas. The clubs below will vary in difficulty with financial wealth or limitations, reputation and board/supporter requirements – all of which are important when choosing your team.
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1. Manchester United
Transfer Budget: £21m
Wage Budget: £5m
Star Players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford
Manchester United are a massive club who have battled at the top for many years winning countless accolades but the talk of trebles and victory over their “Noisy Neighbours” as Fergie put it seems to be a thing of the past.
The Red Devils’ squad is star-studded with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Antony and Jadon Sancho, to name a few. It won’t take much improving to challenge at the top once again but it needs someone to steer the ship back on course and that’s where you come in.
Will you be able to get the best out of Marcus Rashford? Can you move players like Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo on or will you keep them for their experience and use them to guide the club back to the glory days?
2. FC Barcelona
Barcelona’s financial struggles are no secret with the club using various levers and selling rights off to cover costs and bankroll incoming players. The big question is can you manage a side that has world-class players but without the financial power it once had? Will you be able to beat rivals Real Madrid to the La Liga title as well as battle it out with Paris Saint-Germain and FC Bayern München for European honours?
At your disposal you will have some of the hottest prospects in football in Pedri, Gavi and Ansu Fati alongside proven world-class performers like Robert Lewandowski, Franck Kessié and Frenkie de Jong. It’s a club with a massive reputation but no finances – can you balance the books and win at the same time?
3. Eintracht Frankfurt
Transfer Budget: £4.31m
Wage Budget: £543k
Star Players: Evan N’Dicka, Mario Götze, Randal Kolo Muani
Last season’s Europa League winners find themselves playing Champions League football after a somewhat disappointing finish to their Bundesliga campaign sliding to an 11th place finish. Playing in Europe can help to attract the bigger names but you also need the funds to do business. Do you move some players on or bide your time and hope for success in the Champions League?
Key left winger Filip Kostic left to join Juventus (Zebre) in the summer so that’s a possible area to strengthen. The biggest challenge going forward with Frankfurt is to battle with the likes of Borussia Dortmund, R.B Leipzig and FC Bayern München for the Bundesliga title.
4. Hamburger SV
Transfer Budget: £2.6m
Wage Budget: £202k
Star Players: Robert Glatzel, Sonny Kittel, Mario Vušković
Hamburg find themselves stuck in the Bundesliga 2 since being relegated for the first time in their history back in 2018 when the famous clock stopped, bringing their record of being the only side from the original 16 clubs never to be relegated from the German top flight to an end.
HSV are former European Cup Winners and also have six German titles to their name. Your challenge is to restore this giant languishing in the second tier back to its best challenging Europe’s elite for honours once again.
Der Dino have a relatively young talented squad that can be supplemented with some solid loan deals. Will you wheel and deal in the market to bolster the squad? The scouting department is fairly decent too – use them to your advantage.
5. Brighton & Hove Albion
Transfer Budget: £70m
Wage Budget: £1.12m
Star Players: Tariq Lamptey, Moises Caicedo, Robert Sanchez
Brighton have the second-largest transfer budget in the Premier League and will be able to do plenty of business after selling Marc Cucurella to Chelsea in the summer.
The Seagulls have a very talented squad but with the likes of Moises Caicedo being linked with a move away, keeping hold of such talented players may be difficult but will be vital if you want to take on the top sides in the league and push for European football.
There are a few aging players with expiring deals such as Adam Lallana and Joël Veltman. It will be a good idea to either extend their deals if you wish to keep them on the books or look to cash in so as not to lose them for free but decide quickly as the longer you take the less the fee received will be.
Transfer Budget: £250k
Wage Budget: £9k
Star Players: Paul Mullin, Ollie Palmer, Thomas O’Connor
If you fancy having Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney as your boss or featuring in a Disney+ documentary then Wrexham is the club for you. The Welsh side who play in the 5th tier of the English football pyramid aims to compete at a higher level. Are you the boss to take them to the promised land and reach the summit of the Premier League?
The Dragons have some quality in the side with Paul Mullin being a big name who was the top scorer in League 2 and is formidable at this level. Working your way up the football from near enough the bottom is a massive challenge but with Hollywood backing, it may be a touch easier. Why not give it a try?
7. Oldham Athletic
Transfer Budget: £0
Wage Budget: £1k
Star Players: Jordan Clarke, Hallam Hope, Harry Vaughan
Oldham Athletic is a team that was once a Premier League outfit. One of the League’s founding members Oldham have gradually worked its way down the football pyramid in England settling in the National League.
Oldham have some decent members of staff including their Head of Youth Development Louis Dean, Robbie Page Head Performance Analyst as well as Head Physio Mick Rathbone. Holding on to these staff could be vital for moving up the ladder, especially where Youth intake is concerned.
The squad is not the greatest and especially when up against the likes of Wrexham and Notts County, this could be a difficult challenge from the off but certainly one that’s worthwhile if you can climb back to the top.
8. Parma Calcio 1913
Transfer Budget: £3.1m
Wage Budget: £430k
Star Players: Gianluigi Buffon, Adrián Bernabé, Simon Sohm
Parma has had its fair share of controversy over the years with a few bankruptcies, rebirths and former glories littered with world class names such as Hernan Crespo, Fabio Cannavaro, Faustino Asprilla and the current goalkeeper at 44 Gianluigi Buffon.
Having had to battle their way back up from Serie D to the top flight they now find themselves in Serie B where they are expected to finish 3rd. So the big question is, can you reinvigorate a side that has seen many years of misfortune and return them to those star-studded days with a household name in every position continually vying for the top prizes in football?
9. Derby County
Transfer Budget: £0
Wage Budget: £175k
Star Players: Jason Knight, Max Bird, Louie Sibley
The recent struggles of Derby County are well documented and the fall out from their heartbreaking relegation to League One after a 15-year stint away from the Premier League saw manager Wayne Rooney depart for his former club DC United.
So your challenge will be to rebuild a club that lacks finances but have a decent squad with a mixture of talented youth in Louie Sibley as well as veterans like Curtis Davies. Will you be able to steer this club back in the right direction? The Rams have some talented backroom staff. Look to extend deals of those you want to keep before they are swept up by teams higher up.
10. Real Club Deportivo De La Coruña
The final side we will look at have had their fair share of glory in Spain but find themselves in the third tier. Deportivo won La Liga back in 2000 with players in the squad like Roy Makaay, Jorge Andrade and Djalminha. There has been a steady decline and in 2020 they found themselves in the fourth tier but quickly made the step back up the following season.
Can you restore this former giant back to the big time and put a smile back on the fans’ faces? A useful tip would be to look to tie down defender Trilli as he has an incredible potential and increase his £4.2m release clause to ward off potential suitors or to reap the benefits of a higher fee.
So where will your first save be in Football Manager 2023? Why not try out one of the suggestions above and I wish the best of luck in your journey.
For more FM-related content, check out this article on Football Manager 2023 transfer budgets.