It’s that time of year again – FM20 is nearly upon us, and with the game edging closer to BETA, I thought now was as good a time as any to take a look at 5 of the most interesting clubs to take the reins of this time around. For each team I’ll look at how they fared last season, the key challenges for any new manager, and some of the key players within each squad.
ASTON VILLA – PREMIER LEAGUE
Back in the Premier League after winning promotion last season, Villa spent a massive £150 Million in summer, bringing in 12 new faces to shore up their squad ahead of the 2019/20 season. The biggest blow to Villa was Tammy Abraham returning to Chelsea in summer, but they have no shortage of quality, between their existing talent and that massive transfer haul.
So what is the challenge with Aston Villa? Personally, the first challenge will be getting all those new signings to gel and grow into a solid unit – 12 new faces can be difficult to integrate, especially with FM replicating dressing-room tensions through Dynamics in game. After that, keeping the midlands side in the Premier League isn’t likely to be an easy task. Outside of the traditional ‘Top 6’ I can see this season being a bit of a free-for-all in the Premier League, so as Villa manager you’re likely to be scrapping for every point, and likely scrapping to keep your key players as the season develops.
Key Player: Jack Grealish
New Face: Wesley
Hot Prospect: Douglas Luiz
ATLANTA UNITED – MLS
Founded in 2014, Atlanta United joined the MLS as an expansion team in 2017, and immediately mounted a playoff run, making it into the playoffs only to be knocked out on penalties by Columbus Crew in the first round. The following season, they were back in the playoffs again, this time making it all the way to the MLS Cup (the Championship Game) where they took the title in just their 2nd season in the MLS!
The challenge it Atlanta is to get to grips with the rules of the MLS first and foremost – I’ve always personally found that to be difficult, and to do so while building a dynasty in Atlanta has to be the goal – the team are less of a blank slate than other expansion teams, but you still have massive scope to build the club in your own Image.
Key Player: Josef Martinez
New Face: Gonzalo Martinez
Hot Prospect: Ezequiel Barco
PSV EINDHOVEN – EREDIVISIE
Engaged in seemingly never-ending battle with Ajax for domestic supremacy, PSV finished runners-up in the Eredivisie last season, meaning that as well as pushing domestically, any potential PSV manager has the long slog of Champions League qualifying to get through as well.
The Challenge at PSV is two-fold; firstly, toppling Ajax to dominate domestically, and secondly pushing on in Europe Even the Eredivisie Champions only enter the Champions League in the 3rd qualifying round, so you’ll have to fly the flag well to push up the co-efficient and make your European runs easier. Can you bring domestic and European glory to Eindhoven?
Key Player: Steven Bergwijn
New Face: Bruma
Hot Prospect: Donyell Malen
BORUSSIA DORTMUND – BUNDESLIGA
Much like the Eredivisie, the Bundesliga is often a two or three-team shootout, and its a shootout which Bayern won last season as they lifted the double – what makes Dortmund stand out, and what led me to include them along with PSV despite the challenges being similar, is Director of Football, Michael Zorc. He has strengthened Dortmund this summer with some big names, including Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard
The Challenge? For me, Dortmund are a good side at which to test a Director of Football – Zorc is in my opinion one of the best DoFs in real life, and harnessing his talents on FM20 would put any would-be manager in a strong position to topple Bayern – and that is absolutely the challenge! Use your Director of Football, set your 5 year plan, and get stuck in! Once you’re past Bayern, the Champions League awaits, can you take the Yellow Wall all the way?
Key Player: Jadon Sancho
New Face: Julian Brandt
Hot Prospect: Jacob Bruun Larsen
JUVENTUS – SERIE A
It’s yet to be seen how Pro Evo’s Juventus licence will affect naming conventions on FM20, but regardless of whether they’re Juventus or Old Lady Athletic, or Turin Strip or whatever, Juventus are an interesting proposition this year. Obviously, they are reigning Italian Champions, and in Cristiano Ronaldo, they feature on of the greatest players to ever grace a football pitch.
The Challenge at Juventus is less about winning the league and dominating domestically, and more about rebuilding an ageing squad while maintaining that dominance. Ronaldo is one of 9 first-team players over the age of 30, and with that ageing core, any prospective Juventus manager will have to hit the rebuild button, while also ensuring they stay competitive to keep the board happy.
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
New Face: Matthijs De Ligt
Hot Prospect: Luca Clemenza