We’ve put together the 5 best challenges on Football Manager 2023 listed below for fans to experience the best types of frustration and euphoria that the sim can bring. The game has been out for a few months and users may be struggling for ideas for their second save or a bigger challenge to face after taking their favourite club to glory. This guide is for avid players who may have grown tired of the traditional road to glory or taking over the newest cash-filled club to make a wonder kid army.
A Journeyman is a popular challenge that can take you across the globe. Your objective is to start unemployed and build your reputation as one of the best managers in the game. Starting the save with no coaching badges and Sunday League footballer as your reputation in the game, you will have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Switch clubs every season or two and hop around different continents for the full journeyman experience.
If your computer can handle loading more leagues, you will start lower on the football pyramid and it will make the objective of entering the managerial Hall of Fame more difficult. Splitting points into adaptability will make you more likely to be hired overseas, and reading up on the squad registration rules before applying for the job will allow you to understand what sort of challenge you will be facing as you walk into the office. At the start of the save, even if you can’t get success right away, having a team finance your coaching badge can still be worthwhile so it is important to apply to vacant positions and not be too picky. Every time you load up a journeyman save, it will take you across a different path across different continents around the globe, making it a unique experience.
Building a Nation
With dynamic youth ratings added as a feature to the game in Football Manager 2022, it is now possible to strengthen a nation that is not a traditional global powerhouse and have them become one of the best footballing countries in the world. It is ideal to start managing a lower-tier team in the country you want to build, so you can have another club that can have continental success in the country. Initially competing to become the best club in your country, you will aim to become the top dogs in your country, and achieve success in continental competitions to bring in reputation and build your league.
When you achieve some level of success at continental competitions, the dynamic youth rating of your country will rise, making it so better youth prospects come through the system. What you ideally need to achieve is to sign a whole list of talented players, develop them so they are good enough to be starters at continental competitions, and loan them out domestically so the teams around you can achieve results. Building a Nation is really the antithesis of going full Bayern Munich and cannibalising your league of talent; it’s the idea of developing a nation’s footballing talent so they can consistently compete at the pointy end of international competition.
The objective of this save is simple: sign no one but players from your youth academy and win the highest domestic and continental trophy available to you. Starting in a club that was previously unplayable at the start of the save, your facilities and staff are most likely limited and promotion hopes will be bleak. The challenge prohibits buy-back clauses, loans and signings outside of the youth academy giving you a very volatile recruitment policy that cannot target specific positions of need. Upgrade your Youth and Training facilities and hire a good Head of Youth Development for strong intakes that match your preferred system to bring in players for the positions you need. Loaning out youth players to get them first-team experience or selling them so you can reinvest in your facilities becomes a necessity. At least you won’t have to worry about the homegrown player rule.
I’d recommend this save for veterans as it is a very difficult save that relies on factors outside of your control to succeed. You may run into a problem of not having a player in a specific position be good enough, and a player in that position not coming through the youth system who can break the first team. Another issue is feeling ‘stuck’ in the lower leagues for a few seasons as you wait on your young players to grow into their primes for that promotion push or charge up the table. Taking on this save requires patience, commitment and a never say die attitude. Winning the domestic and continental trophy in this save is one of the most difficult challenges for Football Manager, and will not be a walk in the park for any seasoned FM pro.
Director of Football
The Director of Football save is challenging as your progression can’t be fully controlled by you as the chosen Director of Football makes all transfer, contractual and staff decisions. This leaves you in the position of Head coach rather than a manager as you are limited to working with the players your DOI deems to keep, sell or bring in. For those of you who google wonder kids from across the globe the second you load up your save, this will be a shock to the system. You also hand over the scouting assignments to the AI so you can’t force them towards Endrick just because you have money in the bank.
Another difficult component of the save is that you cannot list players for sale or loan, which makes it difficult for both developmental and squad-building purposes. If you inherit a squad full of deadwood and your DoF isn’t proactive, you will be the one facing the consequences. Being unable to personally negotiate contracts also hurts your bid to keep your favoured or star players on the team, and even if they do have new contracts, you’ll often find clauses including minimum buyout clauses which will make you want to rip your hair out. All part of the experience, I assure you.
For those of you who want a further challenge, you can ask your owner to find you a new Director of Football. This will force you to make tactical adjustments based on the players the DoF sells and buys, and you will have to adjust your system to bring the best out of your squad. The DoF save is an experience that pushes you out of your comfort zone and keeps you on your toes as the AI does all of the team building and you can only manage what goes on in the training pitch and the field.
Athletic Bilbao has a long-standing tradition of signing only Basque-based players and you can continue this tradition and bring the club success. Located in Northern Spain and France, the Basque region has a population of around 3 million people. This can be frustrating and difficult as you have only a handful of Basque players coming through your own and nearby academies each year. There is no guarantee that any of them will be good enough to be a part of your squad, especially if you are competing in the Champions League places with the likes of Real Madrid or Barcelona in the Spanish top division. Finding Basque players who have achieved success elsewhere such as Odriozola or Azpilicueta can help you shore up numbers and add real quality provided you can pry them away from their clubs.
You will also have to compete with the likes of Real Sociedad and Deportivo Alavés for the best Basque players in this small region. Focusing your financial resources and tying down a good Head of Youth Development and U-19 coaches will increase the likelihood that players in your youth pool can make the step up to the first XI. Knowing that you are going to have to play stop-gap players in some seasons as you do not have enough quality in rotation makes this challenge extremely difficult. Finding Basque players on Youth contracts and poaching the best ones so they enter your academy is another viable tactic to make sure you have a good reach among the best Basque talent coming through each year. All’s fair in FM challenges and war.
Conclusion – Football Manager 2023’s Biggest and Best Challenges
All of the aforementioned challenges have their own unique challenges that will require persistence from the player to achieve their objectives. These Football Manager 2023 challenges have the best mix of unique restrictions and regulations that make their goals super satisfying to hit. From limitations in the transfer market to building whole nations, the scale of the challenges is large and the difficulty will also rise accordingly. I still fondly remember my Building a Nation save in Croatia where I managed Dinamo Zagreb where every season premier league clubs would come calling for all my star players and I’d be in a constant state of rebuilding another team to cause upsets and hold my own in the Champions League. These saves are memorable and are meant to be challenging so to succeed takes time, more effort than your traditional saves, and praying to the ever-elusive FM gods for good luck.
What I can say is that for players whose FM experience is becoming somewhat repetitive, these challenges can keep you engaged and entertained for a long time, and may even span across the year of the game’s release. It also helps you understand the sheer scale and capability of Football Manager as a simulator and I highly recommend starting one of these saves just to see what all the hype is about. For both casual 4231 Gegenpress lovers to those hardcore FM enthusiasts who insist on Segundo Volantes on attacking roles, these 5 challenges have something to enjoy for every FM player.
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