RealOpinions: Football Manager 2020 is at its best with smaller clubs

New features add depth to SI's title, making the lower leagues more rewarding than previously.


Football Manager 2020 finally hit the shelves this week, and fans of the annual Sports Interactive release were elated to download the game and get to work at their favourite club.

The reviews have been extremely positive for the new game. New features have been introduced to add realism and depth to a game that was already the most immersive sports game on the market.

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But this Football Manager, in particular, is not designed for you to jump into the hot seat at Barcelona or Manchester City. You can, and you’ll still enjoy your time raking in the trophies, but FM20 has been tailor-made for the smaller teams.

It is at it’s best when you are scrapping away in the lower leagues and trying to claw your way up.

The journey

THE PATH: Laying out the way forward with the board gives you targets to buy toward

Football Manager has always offered the epic path to glory for fans of lower league teams.

Far more so than FIFA, the feeling of taking the reins at a team and pulling the strings to win promotion and compete at higher levels in Football Manager is exhilarating.

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A lot of the new features in Football Manager 2020 are designed to enhance this journey far more than they are the constant battle at the top.

The Club Vision is specially tailored to those teams that have steps to take to the top.

This negotiation between you and the Chairman when you take the job outlines a years-long path that they want the club to take. Be it a nice cup run to help the club coffers before pushing for promotion the next season, or a desire to fly up the leagues immediately, having these goals and targets to meet beyond “win the Premier League” provides such a sense of achievement that it surpasses anything but the most impossible Champions League runs.

Buy & sell

SCOUTING: FM20 has a deep scouting system that can only really be enjoyed with smaller teams

The transfer options at the top are always incredibly limited. Sure, there are those wonderkids out there that can be snapped up and developed into world-beaters but eventually you end up looking at the same handful of players over and over again.

With smaller teams, the pool of talent that can fit into your team and improve it is massive, and that means you have to get to work with your scouts more closely.

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FM20 has a remarkable scouting system even when your budget is restricted to just a handful of staff.

Tactical flexibility

MASTER TACTICIAN: The box of tricks is wide open in the lower leagues

Every big team insists you play possession-based, attacking football. While that sounds attractive it really limits you creatively to just a handful of tactical options and formations.

In the lower leagues, life is more complicated. You can play attacking football with a 4-1-4-1 DM Wide gegenpress one year, but after winning promotion you’ll need to be ready to work a more counter-attacking style and find success without the ball.

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If you do make it all they way up to the top you’ll need to have an ultra-defensive style to try and nick a point against the best teams or protect a lead late on.

It allows creative players to flex their muscles and come up with ways to cover over holes in their squad and exploit strengths elsewhere.

All in all, Football Manager 2020 is an excellent game no matter which team you choose to take charge of, but to really get the full experience and feel the ultimate joy you need to start at the bottom and work your way up.


Toby Durant

Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.

 

I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.

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