Bit by bit football edges back to normality. The Bundesliga has exploded with goals, while the Italian and Spanish associations are looking to return to top-flight action within the next three weeks. On the other hand, leagues in Scotland, the Netherlands and Belgium have already been prematurely ended.
To help you cope we have prepared a series of team challenges for you to take on in Football Manager 20. Today’s second part takes you to the far corners of the globe, and through some extraordinary script-busting challenges.
Guillermo Brown de Puerto Madryn FC (Argentine Primera B Nacional)
The first challenge is Guillermo Brown de Puerto Madryn. The city of Puerto Madryn is located in Chubut Province in Patagonia, southern Argentina. Chubut became famous thanks to a settlement there by Welsh immigrants in 1865, with some descendants to this day continuing to use the Welsh language.
Without editing FM 20 to enable other non-playable leagues, Guillermo Brown is the southernmost club you can pick. Founded in 1945, they currently play in the Argentine second tier – only their seventh ever season at this level. Unsurprisingly they have never reached the top flight. Their nearest away trip is to play Santamarina in Tandil, Buenos Aires Province, 960 kilometres away.
So if you like long coach drives for away matches as a supporter, we have found your ideal team in Guillermo Brown. Can you lead them to the top flight, an Argentine title or even more incredibly, the Copa Libertadores? Your transfer budget is £11,444, however you have less than £100 per week to spare on your wage budget.
Paysandu Sport Club (Brazilian Serie C)
If you fancy another South American geographical challenge, Paysandu Sport Club may be ideal. Founded in 1914, Paysandu are based in Belém located in Para State, north-east Brazil. Relegated from the 2018 Brasileiro Serie B, Paysandu’s 2019 Serie C campaign nearly saw an instant return, but they lost to Náutico in the promotion play-offs.
Paysandu have won the most Para state championships (47) and have played in Brazil’s Serie A 27 times. In 2002, Paysandu won the Copa dos Campeões, a trophy for regional cup winners. This qualified them for the 2003 Copa Libertadores where after winning their group, they lost 4-3 on aggregate to Boca Juniors in the last 16 despite winning the first leg 1-0 at Boca’s Bombonera stadium.
The 2003 Libertadores was Paysandu’s first and so far only participation. Can you now revive those glory days? This will not be easy considering the difficulty of convincing players to move to Belém, located over 3,000 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro. You have a transfer budget of £22,464, but you are right on your wage budget limit.
FC Luch Vladivostok (Russian Football National League)
The next challenge is FC Luch Vladivostok from the Russian second tier. Vladivostok is most famous for being the final stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway, 8,997 kilometres from Moscow. Luch were champions of the Russian second tier in 2005, winning a historic first promotion to the top flight.
The Far East club spent three seasons in the top flight until relegation back to the second tier for 2009, where Luch have remained in all but one season since: an impressive achievement considering the geographical logistics. Clubs from western Russia only have to travel to Vladivostok once a season, whereas Luch go in the other direction between 15 to 20 times per season.
Can you take Luch back to the top flight or even qualify for European competition? Attracting players and winning away are two noteworthy challenges in this game. You have no transfer budget, no spare wage room, are predicted to be relegated, are capped at 3 foreign players in your starting line-up and have to pay £182,000 per year in stadium rent. Hard with a capital H.
Tromso IL (Norwegian Eliteserien)
Tromso is the largest urban area in Northern Norway and behind Russian cities Murmansk and Norilsk is the third largest city inside of the Arctic Circle anywhere in the world. Tromso IL, until their relegation from the 2019 Norwegian Eliteserien, were the northernmost top-flight football club in the world.
Tromso have never won a Norwegian title, twice finishing runners-up in 1990 and 2011. However, they won two Norwegian cups in 1986 and 1996. The latter ensured their participation in the 1997/98 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, where they faced English giants Chelsea. Tromso lost 7-1 in the second leg at Stamford Bridge, yet their first-leg 3-2 victory at home entered football folklore.
The start date for this challenge is just before the 2019 season. Can you reverse history by avoiding relegation, claim an historic first title and have more European games on snowy nights in the Arctic Circle? £221,892 is available for transfers and just over £500 per week is spare on wages.
CD Santa Clara (Portuguese Primeira Liga)
The westernmost European top-flight club you can play as is CD Santa Clara. Based on the island of São Miguel on the Azores, since the new millennium Santa Clara have embarked on their most successful era throughout their 93-year history.
The club’s first season in the Portuguese top flight was in 1999/00. Immediate relegation back to the second tier was followed by promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking in 2001. After two seasons, Santa Clara then returned to the second tier, staying there until promotion back to the top flight for 2018/19. Last season saw the Azoreans finish 10th, their highest ever finish.
Benfica, Porto and Sporting have won all but two of Portugal’s league titles. Can you break their dominance with Santa Clara and bring a title to an archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? £86,130 is available for transfers while you have just over £3,000 per week spare for wages.
Oldham Athletic (English League Two)
Fans of a younger generation may be unaware that Oldham Athletic were founding members of the English Premier League in 1992. Under 12 years of Joe Royle’s management from 1982 to 1994, The Latics embarked on a golden era. Oldham reached a League Cup final in 1990, two FA Cup semi-finals in 1990 and 1994 and spent three consecutive seasons in the English top flight between 1991 and 1994.
Since relegation from the Premier League and Royle’s departure to Everton in 1994, Oldham have slowly declined. Relegation to League One occurred in 1997 and after 21 seasons at that level, the club was relegated to League Two for 2018/19. Most troubling, however, has been recent reports of financial problems at the club.
So after 25 years of decline, can you follow in Joe Royle’s footsteps and revive Oldham’s fortunes? No transfer money is available and you are currently spending over your wage budget. The media predict you to finish 10th too, so you must hit the ground running in Lancashire.
Bangor City FC (Welsh Cymru North)
The most famous Welsh football clubs play in the English football system such as Cardiff City, Swansea City, Newport County and Wrexham FC. However, since the Welsh Premier League’s foundation in 1992, Bangor City have been one of its most successful clubs. Bangor’s three titles in 1993/94, 1994/95 and 2010/11 see the club ranked third for titles won.
Financial issues saw the club relegated to the second tier for 2018/19. Then just before 2019/20, the most unlikely ownership and managerial situation occurred. The Citizens were purchased by Domenico Serafino, an Italian-born musician who resides in Argentina. Immediately afterwards, Pedro Pasculli, an Argentine World Cup winner in 1986 and former team-mate of Diego Maradona was announced as Bangor’s new manager.
Under this barely believable ownership scenario, can you be the manager to revive Bangor City’s fortunes? £25,000 is available for transfers with just over £600 per week available for wages. Your media is for you to return to the Welsh top flight as champions.
Hong Kong Rangers Football Club (Hong Kong Premier League)
The only FM20 challenge from Asia in our guides is one those from one side of Glasgow are set to love. Hong Kong Rangers Football Club were founded in 1958 by Ian Petrie, a Scottish ex-patriot from Glasgow. The club were named in honour of Rangers FC, Scotland’s most historically successful club in terms of league titles.
Hong Kong Rangers have won one Hong Kong title in 1970/71 and two Hong FA Cups in 1976/77 and 1994/95. The club were relegated from the Hong Kong Premier League in 2017/18 and only finished 3rd in the second tier in 2018/19, initially missing out on promotion. However, the club were eventually promoted, filling the spot of Dreams FC who voluntarily relegated themselves.
Can you make the Hong Kong version of Rangers as successful as their Scottish counterparts? Winning the Hong Kong Premier League will earn you qualification for the AFC Champions League. Hong Kong clubs are limited to a maximum of four foreign players. You have barely any spare room for wages and £34,459 for transfers. Rent at your council-owned stadium is £49.22k per year.
Budapest Honvéd FC (Hungarian Nemzeti Bajnokság I)
Our next challenge is Budapest Honvéd from Hungary. They became world-famous in 1954 when they travelled to England to play a friendly against the then English champions Wolverhampton Wanderers. Skippered by England captain Billy Wright and managed by Stan Cullis, the West Midlands side beat their visitors 3-2 with many of the opponents part of Hungary’s famous Mighty Magyars.
After the victory, Cullis infamously declared his side “Champions of the World”. French journalist Gabriel Hanot disagreed and suggested that a European club championship be organised to prove who was the greatest European side. Wolves and Honvéd had played more than just a prestigious friendly under floodlights; both were responsible for the foundation for the European Cup, its first edition taking place in 1955/56.
As one of its founders, can you bring regular Champions League football to Honvéd or even make them European champions? Dominating domestically will be your first task; they are only ranked 4th for Hungarian titles, behind Budapest rivals Ferencváros, MTK Budapest and Újpest. £261,595 is available for transfers with just under £800 per week spare for wages.
Recreativo de Huelva (Spanish Second Division B – Group 4)
Our final challenge sees a return to Spanish football whose pantheon includes Real Madrid’s serial European champions of the 1950s and 1960s, Johan Cryuff’s Barcelona Dream Team, and of course Real’s Galácticos of the new millennium. Yet, sewing the seeds of all the above were Recreativo de Huelva, Spain’s oldest football club formed in 1889 by Scottish miners Alexander Mackay and Robert Russell Ross.
El Abuelo (The Grandfather), as Recre are affectionately known, have only spent four seasons in Spanish football’s top flight. The best of came in 2006/07, when Recre finished a remarkable eighth in La Liga, marshalled by future Arsenal star Santi Cazorla in midfield. Recent seasons have not been kind; they are now playing in the third tier, and their nadir came in 2015/16 when the club only narrowly escaped extinction.
Can you lead the Andalucian outfit back to La Liga and to the top of Spanish football? Winning promotion from the Spanish third tier is not an easy task. Expectations are to finish fourth with £64,767 for transfers while £137 per week over your wage budget, and needing to pay £258k per season in stadium rent.