It’s back - bigger, smarter and more in-depth than ever; Football Manager 2015. You’re probably itching to play the game, but who do you start with? We take a look at the 16 best teams to play as on Football Manager 2015.
Loosen those purse strings it’s time to take over the Gunners. With £47 million in the transfer kitty and a squad brimming with world-class talent, if you can shore up the defence, a title push isn’t out of the question. With Welbeck leading the line and a young English core, this could be the year. Hey, you could even make Mesut Özil your Raumdeuter - a new position on Football Manager 2015 which allows a player to take on a role similar to that of Thomas Müller at Bayern Munich.
Defy the odds and guide the Clarets to safety, go on! They’ve been accused of lacking real Premier League quality, and with only £2m to spend it could be tricky to attract the right level of talent. You’ll have to nail the loan market and find some free agents that can add a bit of pizzazz. Is free agent Pablo Aimar ready for a career defining stint in the Premier League?
Starting with a transfer budget of £60m, you can quickly fill the gaps Woodward & Co. somehow managed to ignore. With a raft of attacking talent and a defence as shaky as Stuart McCall on a Toyota Corolla, it’s a fine balancing act. Do you experiment with a 3-5-2 to fit in your No.10s or do you drop star names in favour of a solid system? Be warned – with some of your stars likely to be tempted by the prospect of Champions League football elsewhere, your man management skills will need to be at their best.
With Graziano Pellè leading the line backed up by creator-in-chief Dušan Tadić and, once he’s fit, Jay Rodriguez, (virtual) entertainment will be high on the (virtual) South Coast. Money in the bank to the tune of around £14m, depending on season ambitions, could be used to further develop a talented squad. The conveyor belt of talent will keep chugging along too with the likes of Lloyd Isgrove and Harrison Reed waiting in the wings.
West Ham United
Diamond? Stewart Downing as your Trequartista? Oh go on then! Opposition teams will have their hands full with the pacey duo of Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia, and with the sure footed Alex Song and Mark Noble behind them you’ll have the base of a strong side. There is £3m left over in the transfer pot, so you’ll need to be as shrewd as Big Sam if you’re to dip your toe in the transfer market.
You’ll have a couple of gaps in your team with the injury-enforced absence of Kevin Strootman and departure of Mehdi Benatia, but one of Europe’s finest scouting systems will keep you well informed of unearthed gems. The rejuvenated Gervinho, (who starts the game with a market value of £23.5m!) will provide for the evergreen Francesco Totti up top. You won’t have a big transfer budget, but around £6m should help you rebuild Rome (just not in a day).
You’re the holders of the league title, but your main goalscorer, left-back and goalkeeper have jumped ship. Atletico had a busy summer, and have recruited some real quality to replace the departures. Mario Mandzukic will fill your Diego Costa-shaped hole, and the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Arda Turan and Koke will chip in with goals and assists. You’ve also got wonderkid Angel Correra, who you’ll know from Football Manager 2014. The ultimate challenge is to replicate last season’s form. Beating the other team in Madrid would help too.
‘Sign high-profile players’ is the message in the first briefing from the board. £38m to spend should mean you’re able to bring in a couple. Keep the axis of Cavani and Ibrahimovic happy and stop David Luiz going walkabout in central defence and Ligue 1 shouldn’t be too tricky, although Bielsa’s Marseille may cause some problems. It’s the Champions League where you’ll be expected to deliver for the hard to please Sheikhs.
Prefer a taste for the finer things down in the Principality? Owner Rybolovlev’s high profile divorce may mean the likes of James Rodriguez and Falcao have departed, but you have a raft of young talent coming through such as Kondogbia, Ocampos and Kurzawa. Midfield maestro Joao Moutinho and Dimitar Berbatov are still around too. There’s also a £42m transfer budget knocking around to get things going again.
Dortmund have started the real-life season in something of a funk - can you do better? Fan favourite Shinji Kagawa has returned home but you haven’t got Robert Lewandowski converting his through-balls anymore; instead Italian Ciro Immobile and Adrian Ramos will fill the hole left by the Pole. You will start the game hampered by injuries to star men Marco Reus, Ilkay Gündoğan, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Nuri Şahin, but don’t expect any more big signings with only £4.2m in the transfer kitty.
Paderborn started their first real world Bundesliga campaign like a house on fire, but results have dropped off. Leading these German minnows to safety should be a fun challenge for all you football hipsters out there. You’ll only have £250k to spend, but any team containing an ex-con can only be a hoot, right?
This will be one for the frugal tacticians among you. You’ll have no money to spend and a wage budget in the red to start with. The challenge will be to balance the books and get the team back up the Bundesliga table. The attacking triple-threat of Holtby, Van der Vaart and Lassoga will certainly get you goals. However, with Johan Djourou in the centre of defence you may struggle to keep them out.
David Villa, Damien Duff and Robert Koren in the same team? No, this isn’t some terrible cheese-induced nightmare from 2006 – this is the A-League, and Manchester City’s down-under franchise. It’ll be like a United/City war with cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory. Make sure you’re clued up on rules surrounding marquee signings, though.
The Crazy Gang are once again an established Football League side – but this is your chance to take them back to the promised land for the first time since being reborn as AFC Wimbledon. Build your team around ‘The Beast’ Adebayo Akinfenwa, set up a good scouting network and scour the lower leagues for talent as you’ll only have £10k to play with.
We challenge you to last longer than 32 days. Owner Massimo Cellino will be a hard man to please, but you’ll have a decent nucleus to your team to start with. £5m-rated Italian centre-back Giuseppe Bellusci will be the man to lead from the back and Sam Byram will have Premier League teams sniffing around him. You start with a £500k budget but the loan market and particularly the Italian loan market could be key to a push for the play-offs and a happy owner.
Fancy the biggest budget in the Championship? You’ll start with around £6m but will be expected to make a push for promotion. Goalscoring shouldn’t be an issue with big money signing Britt Assombalonga, and you’ll also have Michail Antonio and Andy Reid to provide. You’ll lose Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles to Newcastle at the end of the first season, so make sure you’re prepared for their departures.
Football Manager 2015 is out now
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