Football Manager 2023: The 25 best teams to play as in FM23

Football Manager 2023: The 25 best teams to play as in FM23
(Image credit: Future)

Football Manager 2023 is out on November 8 – but have you decided who you're going to take charge of this time around?

There are all kinds of careers to follow in FM, from keeping an established giant at the top of the tree to starting out unemployed and latching onto which club offers you work. But have you considered taking charge of these teams this time around?

We've found the most fun challenges in FM23 but a word of warning: we won't be recommending you take charge of PSG or Manchester City…

The 25 best teams to play as in Football Manager 2023

1. Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton players celebrate a Pascal Gross goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Brighton players celebrate a Pascal Gross goal against Manchester United (Image credit: Getty Images)

Manchester City have the biggest budget on Football Manager 2023. Second on the list? Brighton & Hove Albion.

It seems nonsensical, yet Marc Cucurella's sale can give you the funds to totally revolutionise the Seagulls. With good facilities, too – plus being one of two Premier League teams with licensed kits – there aren't many better English clubs from an FM standpoint. Getting them into the Europa League is a genuine challenge in your first couple of seasons. 

2. Aston Villa

Danny Ings and Leon Bailey of Aston Villa celebrate after Ings scored their team's second goal in the Premier League match versus Brentford on 23 October, 2022 at Villa Park, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Danny Ings and Leon Bailey of Aston Villa celebrate after Ings scores their team's second goal in the Premier League match against Brentford (Image credit: James Williamson – AMA)

Aston Villa are a genuine giant of English football with a European Cup in the cupboard, a huge fanbase and massive players across the team right now. OK, so they don't have Brighton funds but who does?

The Villans' players are far better than their start to the season under Steven Gerrard suggested: there are two quality strikers to choose from and a raft of youth players coming through, too. With £30m in the bank to start with, there's scope to make two or three transformational signings in your first season and get the Midlands outfit back where they belong. 

3. Leeds United

Pascal Struijk of Leeds United celebrates scoring their side's first goal with teammates Marc Roca and Illan Meslier during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Leeds United at Selhurst Park on October 09, 2022 in London, England.

Pascal Struijk of Leeds United celebrates scoring his side's first goal with teammates Marc Roca and Illan Meslier during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace (Image credit: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Leeds United are in a strange place right now, having not quite fully transitioned to Jesse Marsch's ways after Marcelo Bielsa and only brought in a handful of new recruits in the summer. Some clubs brought in almost two dozen, after all. 

The Whites still have £25m left to spend at the start of FM23, with the likes of Luis Sinisterra, Marc Roca, Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson already added to the squad. They're all young enough to develop, too, as you can start to level the squad and continue Marsch's renovation. 

4. Blackburn Rovers

Adam Wharton of Blackburn Rovers celebrates with teammates after scoring their side's second goal during the Sky Bet Championship between Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City at Ewood Park on October 22, 2022 in Blackburn, England.

Adam Wharton of Blackburn Rovers celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal against Birmingham City (Image credit: Cameron Smith/Getty Images)

There are a few decent academy prospects at Blackburn Rovers at the start of Football Manager 2023, while the real star of the show is refusing to sign a new deal. Decide on whether to stick or twist with Ben Brereton Diaz and go from there.

Either you have a top striker to help you out of the Championship or £10m to reinvest in the squad. Blackburn are the only Premier League champion outside the top flight – and it's not too hard to get them back up. 

5. West Bromwich Albion

Matt Phillips of West Bromwich Albion celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-1 with Dara O'Shea of West Bromwich Albionduring the Sky Bet Championship between Reading and West Bromwich Albion at Select Car Leasing Stadium on October 15, 2022 in Reading, United Kingdom.

Matt Phillips of West Bromwich Albion celebrates after scoring against Reading (Image credit: Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images)

West Bromwich Albion are another massive club that currently sit outside football's top tier. Don't believe us on how big they are? Just wait to see where the regens come from.

Every year on your FM save, West Brom are going to produce decent youngsters and once you get them promoted, establishing the Baggies as a top-flight regular isn't too hard. The challenge is to take them further: they're considered "rich" by FM, too. 

6. Plymouth Argyle

Dan Scarr of Plymouth Argyle is challenged by David Mcgoldrich of Derby County during the Sky Bet League One between Derby County and Plymouth Argyle at Pride Park Stadium on September 03, 2022 in Derby, England.

Dan Scarr of Plymouth Argyle is challenged by David McGoldrick of Derby County (Image credit: Cameron Smith/Getty Images)

Plymouth is the biggest city in the United Kingdom to have never had a football club in the top flight. That needs to change one of these days. 

Argyle are flying in League One right now with their three best players on loan. When those deals come to an end and the Championship money comes in though (touch wood), the team is all yours to build and take to the promised land. The Premier League needs to come to Devon, right?

7. Borussia Monchengladbach

Ramy Bensebaini of Borussia Monchengladbach celebrates with teammates after scoring their team's fourth goal during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Mönchengladbach and 1. FC Köln at Borussia-Park on October 09, 2022 in Moenchengladbach, Germany.

Ramy Bensebaini of Borussia Monchengladbach celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's fourth goal against Koln (Image credit: Alexander Scheuber/Getty Images)

Borussia Monchengladbach are steeped in history, followed by thousands and most importantly for Football Manager, have a fair few decent players at their disposal, including Marcus Thuram. The question is, do you sell him or build around him?

£4m to spend isn't too big a budget but that can be bolstered with a couple of sales. The wage budget is fair though, meaning that Gladbach aren't far off competing for the Champions League places, should you buy shrewdly. 

8. RB Leipzig

Christopher Nkunku of RB Leipzig celebrates after scoring their team's second goal from the penalty spot during the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and VfL Bochum 1848 at Red Bull Arena on October 01, 2022 in Leipzig, Germany.

Christopher Nkunku celebrates after scoring the second goal from the penalty spot during the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and VfL Bochum (Image credit: Martin Rose/Getty Images)

They're the most despised club in all of Germany… but don't let that put you off.

Not only are you backed by a board who will actively encourage you on a quest to sign every wonderkid under the sun, you have a number of affiliate clubs to send your starlets to. RB Leipzig are maybe the biggest club on this list but still underdogs – and let's face it, we're all trying to turn our FM saves into something resembling this lot. 

9. Hoffenheim

Pavel Kaderabek of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim celebrates wtmafter scoring their team's fifth goal during the DFB Cup second round match between TSG Hoffenheim and FC Schalke 04 at PreZero-Arena on October 18, 2022 in Sinsheim, Germany.

Pavel Kaderabek celebrates after scoring Hoffenheim's fifth goal during the DFB Cup second round match against Schalke 04 (Image credit: Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images)

A few years ago, Hoffenheim were competing in the Champions League under the fresh-faced Julian Nagelsmann – whatever happened to him? – now, they've sunk back to midtable obscurity.

The German side are considered "rich" in FM23, with around £8m to spend at the start of your save and almost £60k a week to spend on wages. As with any Bundesliga save, the grail is to topple Bayern. 

10. Kaiserslautern

Erik Durm, Robin Bormuth and Marlon Ritter of Kaiserslautern react during the Second Bundesliga match between 1. FC Kaiserslautern and SSV Jahn Regensburg at Fritz-Walter-Stadion on October 16, 2022 in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Erik Durm, Robin Bormuth and Marlon Ritter of Kaiserslautern in action against Regensburg (Image credit: Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

Kaiserslautern have finally been promoted from the third tier after years in the wilderness – but they only finished third in the league. 

The mission remains the same as it always was: take them back to the summit that they briefly conquered in the 90s. Leading Die roten Teufel is by no means an easy job but they have the fanbase and the ambition to get back to the Bundesliga at least. How long before you can take them to the top?

11. Monaco

Monaco's French forward Wissam Ben Yedder (R) celebrates after scoring a gaol with Monaco's Swiss forward Breel Embolo (L) during the French L1 football match between AS Monaco and FC Nantes at the Louis II Stadium (Stade Louis II) in the Principality of Monaco on October 2, 2022.

Monaco's French forward Wissam Ben Yedder (R) celebrates after scoring a gaol with Breel Embolo (Image credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

Even the forward options alone at Monaco are outstanding. Wissam Ben Yedder, Kevin Volland, Breel Embolo, Myron Boadu and Takumi Minamino can all play up front, while Willem Geubbels has plenty of potential behind them. 

There's £17.24m to spend, while Monaco have one of the biggest wage budgets in all of France, too. Taking this principality back to the glory days should be a doddle – and you don't have to sell too many players to make it happen, either. 

12. Saint-Etienne

Benjamin BOUCHOUARI of Saint Etienne,Dylan CHAMBOST of Saint Etienne and Jean Philippe KRASSO of Saint Etienne during the Ligue 2 BKT match between Valenciennes and Saint Etienne at Stade du Hainaut on August 27, 2022 in Valenciennes, France.

Benjamin Bouchouari, Dylan Chambost and Jean Philippe Krasso of Saint Etienne celebrated a goal against Valenciennes (Image credit: Franco Arland/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

PSG can this year overtake Saint-Etienne as the most successful club in France's history. Les Verts have a rich background, too, having won title after title in the 1970s and even reached a European Cup final.

Now, they've been relegated to the second tier and had to sell the likes of Wahbi Khazri, Lucas Gourna-Douath and Adil Aouchiche. Re-establishing this side is a tough task considering how long they were languishing in the lower reaches of Ligue 1 but the youth production at Saint-Etienne is impressive… as is English wonderkid keeper (and aptly-named) Etienne Green between the sticks. 

13. Ajax

Ajax vs Napoli live stream

Ajax celebrate a goal in the Eredivisie (Image credit: Getty Images)

Ajax may be the biggest club in the Netherlands but they're still an underdog on the continental stage. Can you change that? 

The Dutch champions have received quite the windfall, having sold both Antony and Lisandro Martinez to Manchester United for a combined total of around £135m (not to mention Ryan Gravenberch to Bayern, too). Not all of that will be available to you to make signings but with a top academy and the pick of Dutch talents from across the nation, Total Football pt. II isn't too grand a plan. 

14. Athletic Bilbao

Inaki Williams of Athletic Club celebrates after their sides first goal with teammates, an own goal scored by Nicolas Fernandez of Elche CF during the LaLiga Santander match between Elche CF and Athletic Club at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero on September 11, 2022 in Elche, Spain.

Inaki Williams of Athletic Club celebrates the side's first goal against Elche CF (Image credit: Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

One of these days, you're going to have to do a Bielsa.

No, you can't sign anyone who isn't Basque – but with the likes of Unai Vencedor and Nico Serrano coming through, this could be a vintage Athletic Bilbao generation. All they need is some guidance, a killer tactic and a couple more golden intakes on your save…

15. Almeria

El Bilal Toure of Almeria celebrates after scoring their side's third goal with team mates during the LaLiga Santander match between UD Almeria and Rayo Vallecano at Juegos Mediterraneos on October 08, 2022 in Almeria, Spain.

El Bilal Toure of Almeria celebrates after scoring the side's third goal against Rayo Vallecano (Image credit: Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Almeria have a secure financial future, a little to spend and a good wage budget. The minnows are in La Liga, too, making it a good challenge to keep them there. 

The second division in Spain comes with a wage cap so it's always less fiddly to take a tiny top-tier team and build them up instead. Almeria have all the resources to become an established midtable La Liga side. 

16. Cartagena

Mikel Rico of FC Cartagena competes for the ball with Gaku Shibasaki of CD Leganes during the LaLiga SmartBank match between FC Cartagena and CD Leganes at Estadio Cartagonova on October 09, 2022 in Cartagena, Spain.

Mikel Rico of Cartagena competes for the ball with Gaku Shibasaki of Leganes (Image credit: Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Cartagena is a city of over 200,000 people. That's twice as big as Girona – who have a team in La Liga. 

Cartagena's club have never been there though and are in the Segunda Division, where they slum it out with bigger clubs like Malaga, Granada and Alaves. Taking on fallen giants in Spain such as Deportivo La Coruna can be fun… but what about a side who have never been to the top?

17. Sassuolo

Armand Lauriente of US Sassuolo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between US Sassuolo and Salernitana at Mapei Stadium - Citta' del Tricolore on October 02, 2022 in Reggio nell'Emilia, Italy.

Armand Lauriente of US Sassuolo celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Salernitana (Image credit: Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Sassuolo have one of the biggest budgets in Serie A – yeah, little Sassuolo who seemingly flog all their best players yearly. 

Not only are there plenty of good youngsters coming through every year at Sassuolo, Italians are dominating the wonderkid list this year with so many top starlets in every position. It's possible to build a decent team of stars mainly under 23 with the money that you have and be challenging for the Europa League spots – the big question is whether you can hack that horrible green and black shirt. 

18. Torino

Perr Schuurs of Torino FC celebrates with teammates after scoring their team's third goal during the Coppa Italia match between Torino FC and Cittadella at Olimpico Stadium on October 18, 2022 in Turin, Italy.

Perr Schuurs of Torino celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's third goal against Cittadella (Image credit: Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Wilfried Singo, Perr Schuurs and captain Ricardo Rodriguez make up three of your back four with wonderkid Samuele Ricci at holding midfield. Now add some forwards. 

The goal with Torino is to shoot up the Serie A table but also to challenge neighbours Juventus in the long run. There are certainly stars to do that at Il Toro this season, with around £8m to invest in the squad. 

19. Como

Como fans during the Serie B match between Como 1907 and Brescia Calcio at Stadio Giuseppe Sinigaglia on August 29, 2022 in Como, Italy.

Como fans during the Serie B match against Brescia Calcio (Image credit: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

If you take the job at Como, Dennis Wise will be your boss. Sold yet? 

If that's not enough, Cesc Fabregas is in your squad. The northern Italian Serie B side situated in idyllic scenery are launching a push towards the top this season and as one of the favourites to go up, they should just need a little tweaking before taking Italian football by storm. Plus, Dennis Wise as your boss. 

20. Pacos de Ferreira

Pacos de Ferreira players pose for a team photo before the start of the Portuguese Cup match between Vitoria FC and FC Pacos de Ferreira at Estadio do Bonfim on October 16, 2022 in Setubal, Portugal.

Pacos de Ferreira players pose for a team photo before the start of the Portuguese Cup match against Vitoria in Setubal, Portugal (Image credit: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)

Pacos de Ferreira are a tiny club who have made European competition just a couple of times in their history. They have an ace card this season, however, with Manchester City loanee Kayky in their ranks.

The wonderkid is worth building around in the first season before you look to build on last year's good finish to challenge the establishment. Aside from two freak seasons, only Sporting, Benfica and Porto have ever won the Portuguese title…

21. Belenenses

Diogo Tavares of Belenenses SAD in action during the Liga Portugal 2 match between Belenenses SAD and SC Farense at Estadio Nacional on October 7, 2022 in Oeiras, Portugal.

Diogo Tavares of Belenenses SAD in action during the Liga 2 match between against SC Farense (Image credit: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)

Those weird two campaigns in which the big three didn't win the title in Portugal? One of those titles went to Boavista about 20 years ago – the other went to Belenenses.

Belenenses now reside in the second tier following relegation last year. Taking them back to the top is one of the more difficult jobs in Portuguese football but there aren't many more satisfying things in FM than quashing the status quo. Plus, Portugal are always developing top wonderkids…

22. Albirex Niigata Singapore

Shunsuke Mito of Albirex Niigata celebrates the first goal during the J.League Meiji Yasuda J2 match between Tokyo Verdy and Albirex Niigata at Ajinomoto Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Chofu, Japan.

Shunsuke Mito of Albirex Niigata celebrates (Image credit: Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

Here's an odd one – Albirex Niigata Singapore is a satellite club of J-League side Albirex Niigata, who play in the Singapore Premier League. 

So far so normal, until you see that Albirex are required to register at least eight U-21 players of Japanese nationality for a squad size of up to 24 players. That increases to nine with a 25-player squad. Up for the challenge? Imagine winning a continental title for this team, or better yet, combining this job with the Japanese national gig and winning a World Cup.

23. Charlotte FC

Andre Shinyashiki #16 of Charlotte FC celebrates while wearing the crown after defeating Inter Miami during their game at Bank of America Stadium on May 07, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Andre Shinyashiki of Charlotte FC celebrates after defeating Inter Miami (Image credit: Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

One of the newer franchises in Major League Soccer, Charlotte FC finished ninth in their conference in their first season – 19th overall. 

Establishing them as a giant of US football could be fun this time around, especially as this is a club with exactly zero backstory. Want to sign big names? Sure. Establish a dynasty of wonderkids? Why not. Get a senior afflilate to send you players? Go for it. The sky's the limit. 

24. Vaduz

Kristijan Dobras of FC Vaduz celebrates after scoring his team's first goal with teammates during the UEFA Europa Conference League Second Qualifying Round - Second Leg Match between FC Vaduz and Ujpest FC at Sportpark Eschen-Mauren on July 29, 2021 in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

Kristijan Dobras of Vaduz celebrates after scoring his team's first goal with teammates during the Europa Conference League Second Qualifying Round game against Ujpest (Image credit: Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, is so tiny that their club can't get into the Champions League if they win their domestic league. There's only one way to do it. 

You know exactly where we're going with this. Can you win the Europa League with the smallest club to ever lift the trophy, just to get into the Champions League? What a feat that would be…

25. Colo Colo

Esteban Paredes #7 of Colo-Colo celebrates with teammates after scoring the second goal of his team on a penalty kick during a group C match between Colo Colo and Peñarol as part of Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2020 at Estadio Monumental on September 15, 2020 in Santiago, Chile.

Esteban Paredes of Colo-Colo celebrates with teammates after scoring the second goal against Peñarol in the Copa Libertadores (Image credit: Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images)

Every year we consider taking a team in Brazil or Argentina. But why manage a Santos, Sao Paolo, River or Boca when Colo Colo are right there?

Chile's finest have only ever won the Copa Libertadores once in their history. That needs to change – and with a plethora of South American wonderkids in FM every year, why not give it a go?

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