Five Football Manager challenges to keep you busy

On Wednesday afternoon Football Manager did the Lord’s work and made FM20 free for a limited time to anyone on Steam.

The offer follows the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shutting down nearly all sport across Europe, leaving us twiddling our thumbs and in search of something to fill the time.

With that being said, we’re going to offer up five potential Football Manager campaigns, each coming with varying difficulties, that you can take on should you choose to make use of the free download.


Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao are a unique challenge for any football manager, offering a challenging and thought provoking experience for the player. The main reason being, is that Bilbao have a self-enforced rule that they can only bring Basque players into the football club.

The pool of players that are applicable to this particular area is very small, meaning that it is a significant challenge for any manager to drive this club to success. 

However, it has a significant recent history of stars that have lifted the club to good times. Fernando Llorente and Aritz Aduriz are two notable names, plus players like Ander Herrera finding success in England with Manchester United. 

In terms of the current squad, Inaki Williams is the star man. He attracted real-world interest from Manchester United in the summer transfer window and can play across the front line. 

It will be a big ask to grow this club, mainly relying on youth and poaching Basque players from overseas – but a satisfying one at that.


Notts County

If you fancy a lower league thrill, the chance to manage Notts County in the Vanarama National is an attractive proposition. 

The club’s long stay in the football league sadly ended last year and the club has a proud history. It would be immensely rewarding to bring the club up the leagues to where they belong and reignite the feud with their bitter rivals across the River Trent. 

As with any lower league save, resources are more limited. Prudence in the market is crucial, mainly relying on loans and free transfers is inevitable for the first few years. Difficult decisions will have to be made and star players that help you rise will move to pastures new. 

However, the club are in good stead and will surely be one of the favourites in-game to bounce straight back into the EFL. 



If you fancy managing a bigger side in order to get to grips with the game, Chelsea are a good shout. Familiar players mean tactics will be simpler to devise and new players should be easier to lure in.

Despite this, it will not be plain sailing. Chelsea’s transfer ban is incorporated into the game, meaning no new signings can be made until the following summer. As such, players will have to work with what they have. The advantage of this mimics Frank Lampards, having a bigger chance to develop talents such as Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and the prodigy Billy Gilmour. 

It also allows plenty of scouting in time for the following summer transfer window, where you will hopefully receive a decent budget to address the weak areas of your squad. 

You can either revert to the old Chelsea style of buying stars, or continue the model of developing young talents.



If you fancy a hardcore challenge, Bolton may be for you. 

Scarily, due to their financial woes, you will start with a twelve-point deduction before a ball is kicked. Resources are very limited and it will be no easy task to rise up the leagues whilst managing the financial aspect of the club. 

Positively, they moved to a younger model in light of this and you will have the chance to develop up-and-coming talents.

In any case, don’t expect a quick rise. It will take time and effort – but time doesn’t seem to be that big an issue at the minute!


Ajax Academy Challenge

If you want to challenge yourself in another way, Holland may be the place for you.

Their squad is strong, as showcased by the impressive run in the Champions League last season, despite the losses of Mathijs De Ligt and Frenkie De Jong. 

To make this really tough, you can set the rule that you cannot sign any external players. You simply have to rely on the impressive youth facilities and academy system that have made the club famous over the years!

Featured image credit: Getty / Sega