It's the most wonderful time of the year - the leaves are changing, the nights are drawing in, and 'Football Manager' is coming back to destroy our sleeping schedules.

With the new 'Football Manager' just around the corner, we've hand-picked some of the best teams for you to get your teeth into.

The folks at Sega have very kindly sorted us with a beta code, and even at this early stage, the game is as addictive as ever.

The joy of 'Football Manager' over the years has been its free-form nature and giving players the ability to do whatever they want within the game, but sometimes a specific save can be just as satisfying as the classic rags to riches story.

If playing with Erling Haaland gets too repetitive, we've played around with the beta to give our readers a look at the most interesting teams to manage over the coming months.

From the lever-pulling antics of Barcelona, a relegation-threatened Leicester, or a title-chasing Napoli, wannabe managers will have their hands full this year.

Without any further ado, here are our picks for the trickiest teams to manage in the new 'Football Manager'.


The last team from outside of Barcelona or Madrid to win La Liga, the team that blessed the world with David Silva, David Villa and Juan Mata have fallen on tough times.

A consistent presence in Europe has made way for mid-table mediocrity, and the fun doesn't stop there.

The club lacks the financial manpower to compete with the bigger teams, and their famed youth academy is a shadow of its former self.

There is hope however, with the Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani joining on a free transfer this summer, and the high-potential Justin Kluivert arriving on loan from Roma.

This bit of oomph up front should be enough to win games, but getting Valencia back into the Champions League should be your first port of call.

A savvy manager would make use of the bottom half of the Spanish league to source new signings, and playing the loan market could be a way to get Valencia back into European action.

Valencia are an ideal team to play around with if you're looking for a simple save to start your journey on 'Football Manager 23'.

Nottingham Forest

It's fair to say Nottingham Forest's return to the Premier League has not panned out the way they planned.

After a dramatic promotion, the club spent big in the transfer window, bringing in a whopping 21 new players this summer as the windfall from promotion gave the squad a facelift.

As manager Steve Cooper has found out, signing what is essentially two brand new teams on top of your existing winning 11 is a delicate balancing act.

Figuring out what is the best team to put on the pitch every Saturday is something the manager must learn quickly, as the drop back into the Championship can prove fatal for any newly-promoted team.

Premier League veterans like Jesse Lingard and Jack Colback add years of experience to the squad, while Swiss midfielder Remo Freuler is exactly the kind of player to build the team around.

The mercurial Serge Aurier is enough to keep any manager on their toes, but the boundless potential of Morgan Gibbs-White should be enough to offset any headaches.

Like Valencia, Nottingham Forest are the perfect team to help your dip your toes into the world of 'Football Manager' if you haven't played the series for a while.


Just over a decade ago, Bordeaux were the toast of French football after winning the league title in 2009 under the stewardship of Laurent Blanc.

A famous run to the quarter-final of the Champions League and a talisman in the form of Yoann Gourcuff hinted at a decade of dominance for the French outfit, but that wasn't to be.

The mega-money PSG caused a sea change in French football, and Bordeaux were one of the many victims of the league's decrease in competitiveness.

Financial troubles have plagued the club, with the team briefly being relegated to the third division of French football earlier this year before having that decision reversed.

Sacre Bleu: Bordeaux were relegated earlier this year

Bordeaux starts the game in the 2nd division, bereft of cash and hope.

If you enjoyed playing as Derby County last year, Bordeaux is a similarly near-impossible task for the veteran 'Football Manager' fan.

The team has seen the likes of Zidane, Cantona, Blanc and, erm, Marouane Chamakh line out for them over the years is facing its starkest crisis in modern history - can you bring the team back to the top?


The Maderia club is struggling to keep itself in the first division this season, with the side threatened with relegation for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Survival is the name of the game with this Portuguese team - it will take many years to build a title-winning team to compete with the likes of Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica.

The Portuguese league isn't as well-off in relativity to other major European leagues, but Marítimo operates on the tiniest of budgets.

Keeping the side in the top division is your first priority, and only then can dreams of European glory follow.

Professional battering ram Pepe started out at the club as a youth, but the 'Football Manager' gods would need to be smiling down on you for your batch of regens to have a player of that talent.

The team has no real stars to speak of, and unless you have a deep knowledge of the Portuguese second division, you'll be hard-pressed to find that killer signing to bring your team up the table.


The team with the most striking kits in football are looking to capitalise on the power vacuum left by the collapse of Juventus.

Fiorentina are a familiar sight to fans who watched Champions League highlights on RTE 2 or 'Football Italia' on Channel 4 back in the day, but the team are no longer European regulars - they are doing well to even qualify for continental football these days.

The Florence team appeared to have finally stumbled upon the clubs best player since Gabriel Batistuta in the form of Serbian striker Dušan Vlahović, but the striker left for the big money of Juventus earlier this year.

Deep Purple: Can you bring back the glory days of Gabriel Batistuta?

Vlahović's compatriot, Luka Jovic, was drafted in to replace him, and while he doesn't have the innate gifted ability of Vlahović, the striker is still capable to win a game by himself.

The challenge for any budding Fiorentina manager is attaining consistency, with a few consecutive top 6-finishes the doctor's prescription in this instance.

A decent budget and a strong youth set-up should give you everything you need to succeed and bring the glory days back to Florence - and perhaps win the team their first league title in 50 years in the process.

Fiorentina has seen many ups and downs over the years, but in the wake of the Italian football hierarchy changing with Juventus undergoing a spectacular Manchester United-style decline, now could be the time for Viola to prove their worth.

Bayer Leverkusen

If you can live with the guilt of putting Xabi Alonso out of a virtual job, Bayer Leverkusen makes for one of the most challenging but rewarding 'Football Manager' saves this year.

The formidable Patrik Schick is shaping up to be the natural successor to Jan Koller, with the Czech striker one of the best strikers in the game.

Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun is a fantastic sparring partner for Schick, and these two talented strikers should be enough to send Leverkusen back to the upper heights of German football.

Chelsea star Callum Hudson-Odoi has joined the team this year on loan, and this bevy of attacking talent means that Leverkusen are a team brimming with potential - all it needs is the right manager.

20 years ago, a Michael Ballack-led Leverkusen made it all the way to the Champions League final before being dispatched of by one of Zidane's finest moments as a player, but there is enough talent and wit about Westphalia's finest to make this an ideal jumping off point for your 'Football Manager' journey this year.

'Football Manager 23' will release on November 8th.