The Best Teams to Manage on Football Manager 2022

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Many people are looking for the best teams to manage on Football Manager 2022 — and many have different preferences for what they’re after in a club. So if you don’t know who to manage in FM 22, this article is just for you.

For some, the best clubs to manage on FM22 would be ones with endless riches of money to spend, allowing you to build a super club of the best wonderkids out of nowhere in record time.

For others, the best FM 22 teams to manage would be the total opposite — a shoestring budget, allowing only for a manager that proves to be an expert wheeler dealer in the transfer market and a tactical mastermind on the pitch if any success is to be achieved.

Whether you want silly money to spend or you want a fun Football Manager 2022 challenge idea to embark on, we’ve rounded up 8 great FM22 teams to manage.

Barcelona

Barcelona wouldn’t normally be considered a particularly challenging save in previous versions of FM. However, the current situation there is anything but normal. This makes Barcelona one of the best teams to manage on FM22.

Financial troubles forced the club to sell several of their biggest talents over the summer, in order to reduce the wage bill, including their prized asset in talismanic Argentinian, Lionel Messi. Antoine Griezmann has also gone back to title rivals Atletico and been replaced by the likes of the mercurial Memphis Depay and former Newcastle reject, Luuk de Jong.

Such is their plight that early season team sheets saw them deploy an unprecedented number of teenagers, as they struggled to field a team worthy of the famous shirt.

However, their young guns, supported by the famed La Masia youth academy, have the potential to turn things around for the Catalan giants.

In 18 year-old Pedri, they have one of the most promising midfield talents in Europe who has already established himself in the Spanish national squad. Left winger, Ansu Fati, also 18, already has 34 La Liga appearances and 13 goals for the club, while right back Sergino Dest is a star of the US national team at only 20.  

Crucially, they have kept a defensive spine to the squad in club legends, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets, but both are aging and arguably past their peak.

Such is the size of the club, expectations will still be sky-high, so there’ll be no talk of a “re-building phase”.

Can you still produce a winning team and deliver the trophies the fans are accustomed to with limited transfer funds, a reduced wage budget and the likes of de Jong and Martin Brathwaite spearheading the attack?

You’ll need to be a real wheeler dealer here, but you could look to some of the best free agents in FM22 to help you out.

Athletic Club (Bilbao)

FM veterans will likely already be familiar with Athletic’s policy of solely fielding players of Basque origin. Despite this restriction to their operations, the Northern Spanish club have never been relegated from La Liga, are 8-time champions, and have lifted the Copa Del Rey on more than 20 occasions (though neither have been won since their double-winning 83/84 season).

Managing Athletic is considered to be one of the toughest challenges in FM. While their La Liga rivals are scouring the world for new, young talents and bringing in established players from the top European leagues, Athletic’s scouts are restricted to a population of only 2 million people in the Basque Country.

With such a sparse availability of signings that can actually improve the squad, managers must extract the absolute maximum from the players they have, so tactical know-how will be essential to any success. Youth development will also comprise a huge part of an Athletic save, since the club’s transfer policy on signing youth players is a little less restrictive.

Competing domestically with the likes of Real, Athletico and Barca, while selecting from such a small pool of players, would be a challenge to even the most seasoned FM players, let alone actually winning anything or qualifying for Europe. Are you up to the challenge!?

Salford City

Salford are the pet project of former Manchester Utd players, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, the Neville brothers, Paul Scholes and David Beckham (our second club with Beckham as an owner!). Prior to the 2014 “Class of ’92” takeover, Salford were competing in the Northern Premier League, England’s 8th tier.

Since then, a record of four promotions in five seasons has seen them elevated to League 2, where they have comfortably held their own for the past two seasons, even managing to deliver their first significant silverware in the form of the EFL Trophy during the 19/20 season.

Salford have obviously had some generous investment to propel them from amateur status to become a fully professional outfit, complete with a 5,000 capacity stadium.  But there’s still plenty more work to do to complete their journey.

If you enjoy the typical rags-to-riches save, but don’t want to commit to the full project of dragging a minnow club from obscurity to glory, how about jumping aboard the Salford City project. Can you make it to the summit and usurp the established giants of Manchester to become the number one club in the city?!

Inter Miami

Inter Miami is the newest franchise to join the MLS, having completed their first season in 2020. Despite a touch of stardust in the form of joint owner, David Beckham, they had an underwhelming start to their MLS venture, finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference and 19th overall.

In all honesty though, you could pick any MLS side here. The real attraction is the unique way the MLS is run. Following a similar model to more established US sports, it’s a novel experience in itself, especially if you’ve only ever managed in the big leagues of Europe or South America.

Firstly, the entire transfer system is built on drafts and trades, rather than the typical cash-for-players model that most FM’ers are probably more familiar with. There’s one yearly draft to choose the best talents coming out of the US college system, and another to sign up players whose contracts have expired elsewhere. If you want to sign or sell players under contract, they need to be traded for another player, a draft pick or a slot in your squad for overseas players.

Then there are the contract regulations and the salary cap to contend with. Senior and international players count towards the cap, but reserve/youth players don’t, while each club is allowed 3 “designated” players whose salaries are subsidised by the league.

Teams play each other twice if in the same conference (Eastern or Western) and once if in opposing conferences. At the end of the regular season, the play-offs begin and the eventual winners of their respective conference will face off in a Super Bowl-style season finale, the MLS Cup.

It’s a complex system that non-American managers may take time to come to grips with, but it all makes for a much more level playing field than in the European leagues, where the richest clubs are always competing for the biggest prizes.

It may not have the reputation or the draw of playing in the most prestigious competitions yet, but the MLS has the money to attract some big names, players who are perhaps looking to end their careers with one last big payoff. Miami currently have former internationals, Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi on their books, while the familiar faces (to Premier League fans) of former Arsenal full-back, Kieran Gibbs, and Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross also feature on their roster.

To succeed in this save, you’ll need to rely on great squad management skills. Managers won’t be able to sell their superstars for millions and replace them with a conveyor belt of South American wonderkids!

Newcastle Utd

Geordies will tell you in no uncertain terms that Newcastle are a big club, and 50,000 of them crammed into St James’ Park on a Saturday afternoon will undoubtedly give the impression of being one of Europe’s elite.

Yet Newcastle have never won the Premier League and haven’t lifted the FA Cup since 1955. In fact, their only silverware from the modern era has come from winning England’s 2nd tier Championship, following relegation from the Premier League in 2010, and again in 2017.

Despite this, they’ve had a knack of producing exciting teams in the past, packed full of big talents and equally big characters playing an attractive brand of attacking football. Shearer, Gascoigne, Ginola and Beardsley were all world class players who received the adoration of the Newcastle faithful, while Kevin Keegan and Bobby Robson are club legends following successful spells managing The Magpies and so nearly delivering Premier League glory.

In recent years, the fans’ passion and commitment has been tested, with former owner Mike Ashley overseeing a period of poor results and dreary performances, while being universally disliked on the terraces. However, following the controversial takeover of the club by a Saudi-backed consortium, the club suddenly find themselves with an almost bottomless war chest to fund their lofty ambitions.

Now they finally have a real chance to deliver the results and trophies their fans crave. With such resources at your fingertips, how quickly can you turn these sleeping giants into domestic and European heavyweights, and fulfil their potential as the big club they’ve always claimed to be?!

Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon)

Paris St Germain are the clear giants of French football right now, with wealthy backers and a team of world class talent in the form of Messi, Mbappe and Neymar. They’ve lifted seven of the last nine Ligue 1 titles, often by an enormous points margin from their not-so-close rivals. Although Lille managed to dethrone them during the 20/21 season, PSG are the clear favourites to regain their title in the current campaign.

It hasn’t always been this way though. As recently as 2008, Lyon were the dominant team in France. They had won the previous seven Ligue 1 titles, breaking a national record for consecutive wins, and were a regular feature in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, even making the semi-finals in the 09/10 season.

In recent times however, OL have fallen from their perch and have finished outside the Champions League positions for the last three years. Nonetheless, they are still in possession of a new 60,000 capacity stadium and state-of-the-art training facilities.

A sizable hole was left in their attack when Memphis Depay left to join Barcelona for free, resulting in no incoming funds to replace the Netherlands international. However, the playing squad is by no means weak, with experienced competitors like Jerome Boateng and Xerdan Shaqiri among their ranks, but surely some smart activity in the transfer market will be required to bring the glory days back to Parc OL. 

PSG are a giant that won’t be easily toppled. Just make sure you at least finish above bitter local rivals, St Etienne, or the fans will want your head!

St Pauli

St Pauli are arguably the coolest and most likeable club in football (perhaps dependent on your political stance) and are certainly one of the most progressive. The German club has gained a cult following for its over-arching philosophy that emphasises social responsibility and support for the local community, and promotes a culture of tolerance and respect.

St Pauli can be considered to be the antithesis to the current footballing world, where wealthy and often state-funded consortiums bankrolling clubs to domestic and European glory has become a common occurrence. While the Manchester City’s of the world are spending big in the transfer market, funding enormous academy developments and promoting a squeaky clean image, St Pauli’s unofficial club badge is a skull and crossbones flag, they walk out to AC/DC songs and make appearances at heavy metal music festivals.

As a result of their position as left-wing disruptors of the game, they are now one of the most popular teams in Germany, with around 11 million people reportedly lending their support to the club. That’s more than one in every eight Germans who consider themselves a St Pauli fan!

The Hamburg-based club briefly appeared in the Bundesliga in 01/02 and 10/11, but are now in their 11th season in Bundesliga2, having previously fallen into the German third tier almost going bankrupt in the process.

As St Pauli manager, can you gain promotion back to the top tier, compete with the giants of German football and finally end Bayern’s dominance, all while doing things the “right” way. A save for the romanticists out there.

Derby County

Derby County are one of the oldest clubs in England, having been a founding member of the league in 1888. In their long history, they have only been outside the top two tiers for four seasons. Yet now, they face an enormous challenge to not only maintain this record, but to survive altogether.

The Rams last featured in the Premier League during the 06/07 season, when they suffered the ignominy of the quickest ever relegation, with their fate determined as early as March. Since then, they have done all they can to make a return to the top flight.

In 2014, they were taken over by local businessman, Mel Morris, who invested heavily but also embarked on a period of unprecedented spending and managerial uncertainty. Nine managers came and left in six years, as Derby reached the play-offs three times but ultimately failed in their bid to gain promotion to the hallowed lands of the Premier League.

This was a risky strategy that came back to bite them financially and, after several failed attempts to sell the club and secure new investment, the club was put under a transfer embargo in July 2021 before being forced into administration in September and subsequently being deducted 12 points. 

The first challenge to this save will be to make up the lost points and avoid relegation from the Championship, while facing severe restrictions in both the transfer and wage budgets. After that, the challenge is to finally return the club to the Premier League and see if you can recreate the club’s most successful era during the 70’s, when club legend Brian Clough led them to the title and a strong European campaign. 

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