I am a long-term Football Manager player. Even playing it when it was on Xbox 360 back in 2007, and yes, using a controller was as awkward as you are thinking it is. I wouldn’t consider myself someone who was a hardcore player until 2018, although I do have 100+ hours on each previous instalment. This was because I played a few years of each save and then started a new one. Each FM I would play as 5 or so teams, whereas now I run maybe 2 saves over the year with 600+ hours played. The thing that changed was setting long-term goals for me and my team. We all know about the Vanarama to Premier League experience. Here are some other long-term fun saves you can try out.
Scandinavia climbing the coefficients table
The first save I loved was playing as SK Brann in the Norwegian league. The goal was to climb the coefficients table as seen above. The way to climb the table is to win games in European competitions. The bigger the competition, the more points you gain for your country. Every win or draw, every qualification for the next stage, it all nets your country points. Over the space of five years your country will have those points added, and this is how countries like England have more spots than Belgium or Scotland. Recently France lost a spot to the Netherlands, which means next season France will only have three teams qualify for the Champions League, and Holland will have four. This also will mean you are more invested in your domestic rivals as you want them to perform in Europe.
Picking SK Brann meant that I wasn’t even a European team, and in Norway, only the winner could play in the CL. So, I had to build my team to be the best in Norway before I could think about Europe. Five years in I’m now the best team in the league but I’m still struggling to qualify out of a group stage. Yes, the Norwegian Eliteserien winner qualifies for the Champions League. Though, they only qualify for the third qualifying round. This means you will have to win 3 matches before you qualify for groups. It’s at this point I noticed a steam achievement, “Part of the furniture. Stay at one club for 10 seasons.” This was another goal I set for myself which can make playing FM a lot more fun.
Earning the top job in the Netherlands
Another fun save can be to take over historically significant clubs that spend more time having a shot at winning in Europe. If you’re someone who likes the sound of climbing the coefficients table but would rather spend most of the time having at least a slight chance of winning it all and signing top players, Holland is for you. If you don’t want to feel too bad for taking over a top team, you could always start at the likes of Heerenveen or Groningen. Performing well could earn you a chance to manage at PSV or Ajax. Trust me, those two clubs will consistently lose their managers to bigger teams around Europe. Holland is ripe with young talent and the rules are lenient, allowing you to build the team you want. Though, be careful, as even at Ajax you will be treated as a stepping stone by ambitious players.
Toppling the kings of France
My all-time favourite save was in France, trying to beat PSG. They are an absolute boss who typically wins nearly every year on FM. In 2023 they seem to be even stronger, only losing 1-2 games a year at max. Ligue 1 has a lot of good attacking football on display with many of the best players in the world coming from their academies. Though, PSG will absolutely try to snatch any wonderkids you might have. Their unlimited money and squad of players like Mbappe, Neymar, and Haaland (who they signed in the third season just because they could) make winning feel impossible. But that’s the fun of it, doing the impossible. With French academies producing great talent you will notice clubs like Caen becoming a force. Lots of smaller teams will make a name for themselves over the years and that is extremely fun to watch.
Playing as your local team
This is similar to the typical bottom-to-top playthrough. Though, you’re going to be downloading the entire football pyramid of the country you live in so that you can find your local team. Even local teams with 100 fans will be on these custom databases. Hell, for the fun of it, you could create yourself and your friends as players for the team. If you thought climbing from the 6th tier of English football was impressive, try doing it from the 10th.
Buying all the players you love
This is the type of save you run right before the next Football Manager comes out. Many find this boring, taking over the top teams and buying the best players. And they’re right, usually. The point here is to buy your favourite players and look close to retirement. I realised a few instalments ago that Robben, one of my favourite players of all time, I’ve never had him on any of my teams. I’ve never had a lot of my all-time favourites, and now they’re all retired or finished as a top player. By the time FM25 drops, Ronaldo and Messi will likely not be in the game as players anymore. Ibrahimovic won’t be on FM24. Alba, Busquets, Ramos, Chiellini, David Silva, and Benzema, are all having the curtains come down on their careers. If you’ve never signed them before, this is the save to do it in.
The last tip for long-term saves
If you’re someone that has their immersion broken by the monstrous-looking new gens. You need to get Zealand’s NewGAN manager. This made my experience so much better when doing long-term playthroughs. It’s easy to use and gives every player a realistic-looking face.
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