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Football Manager 2024 is almost here – and, if you’re anything like us, you’ll be absolutely itching to get started.

But which team to take charge of first as you fire up the new game? That is the question. Think carefully about where you’re going to go because, virtually speaking, you may spend decades within the simulation there.

Thankfully, FourFourTwo has got you covered with our 20 top picks, from plucky underdogs to minted continental giants…

1. Aberdeen

Aberdeen are one of the premier challengers to the Old Firm in FM24 (Image credit: Getty Images)GET 22% OFF FOOTBALL MANAGER 2024

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2024 will mark 40 years since a team other than Celtic or Rangers were crowned champions of Scotland.

That was Aberdeen under Alex Ferguson. Could you break the Old Firm stranglehold with last season’s ‘best of the rest’ in the Scottish Premiership?

2. Adana Demirspor

Can you lead Adana Demirspor to glory? (Image credit: Getty Images)Every so often, a new force seems to emerge in the Turkish Super Lig – and Adana Dermirspor are the latest.

With a squad including veteran stars like Mario Balotelli and Nani, could you build on last season’s fourth-placed finish and challenge the likes of Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas for the title?

3. Ajax

Ajax have fallen on tough times (Image credit: Getty Images)Ajax’s third-placed Eredivisie finish in 2022/23 was their worst for 14 years – a mark of the Amsterdam giants’ recent dominance of Dutch football.

A club in transition, in the real world, Ajax have made a shocking start to the current campaign; could you do better with them in the Football Manager world?

4. Atalanta

Could Atalanta and Emil Holm be your save of choice? (Image credit: Getty Images)Atalanta have generally been there or thereabouts in Serie A in recent years – but they have still never won the Scudetto.

Having banked big money from selling Rasmus Hojlund to Manchester United, though, and with two Football Manager wonderkids in Emil Holm and Giorgio Scalvini at the back, La Dea make for an exciting-looking project for FM managers.

5. Athletic Bilbao

Can you handle the Cantera? (Image credit: Getty Images)Athletic Bilbao’s famed (and somewhat controversial) ‘Cantera’ policy makes managing them a particularly intriguing challenge.

They’ve been champions of Spain on eight occasions – but not since 1984; could you restore former glories while only signing players born in the Basque Country?

6. Barcelona

Barcelona are a fun save on FM24 (Image credit: Getty Images)On Football Manager 2023, Barcelona had a transfer budget of zero – a reflection of the club’s well-documented financial struggles. It’s similar this time. 

They weren’t hampered by that issue last season, claiming their first La Liga title in four years, but it’s a testing set of circumstances with which to work (they’ve also had to leave Camp Nou while it undergoes renovation); what can you achieve while having to balance the books very carefully indeed?

7. Birmingham City

NFL legend Tom Brady would be your boss if you manage the Blues (Image credit: Getty Images)With NFL legend Tom Brady an owner and Wayne Rooney in the dugout, there are some seriously big names involved at Birmingham City these days.

Clearly, you’d have to replace Wazza as boss, but post-takeover Birmingham make for an enticing challenge in the Championship, England’s notoriously tough second tier.

8. Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund are Bayern’s closest rivals in FM24 (Image credit: Getty Images)From a neutral point of view, even the closest IRL Bundesliga title races have been rather anticlimactic over the past decade or so: Bayern Munich have won it every season since 2012/13.

Their arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund tend to be their main competitors, though, and they’ve got money in the bank in FM24 after selling Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid.

9. Braga

Braga are an underdog in the Portuguese game (Image credit: Getty Images)Portugal’s Primeira Liga is one of the biggest leagues in Europe – but only five teams have ever won it: the traditional ‘big three’ of Benfica, Porto and Sporting Lisbon, along with Boavista and Belenenses.

Braga would no doubt love to join that list, and they look like the best club to manage if you’re in the mood for expanding Portuguese football’s roll of honour some more.

10. Chelsea

Chelsea have plenty to change in FM24 (Image credit: Getty Images)You could manage Chelsea with a big budget and their plethora of signings from the 2023 transfer window. Or, you could use the new FM24 mode that allows you to start a save without signings made that summer.

Use that big budget to assemble a squad of your own and help the Blues back to the top of English (and European) football. It’s easy enough.

11. Dorking Wanderers

Dorking make for a fun save in the lower leagues (Image credit: Getty Images)Founded in 1999 by businessman Marc White, Dorking Wanderers went from English football’s 17th tier to its fifth, in 24 years – with White himself as manager since 2007.

So, do you fancy replacing Mr Dorking Wanderers himself in FM24 and trying to take the Surrey club a step further, into the EFL?

12. Inter Miami

Become Messi’s boss in FM24 (Image credit: Getty Images)Co-owned by David Beckham in 2018, Inter Miami are one of the youngest clubs at the top level of US football – and, while they’ve yet to win any silverware, they do now have a certain Lionel Messi on their books.

MLS rules on transfers are a bit more restrictive than what you might be used to in Europe – but you have already got Messi at your disposal, along with Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.

13. Luton Town

Can you keep the Hatters afloat? (Image credit: Getty Images)It’s always fun to take charge of an underdog in FM, and Luton are the biggest underdogs the Premier League has seen in a fair while.

And success may not come in the form of avoiding relegation: instead, maybe you could turn the Hatters into a sustainable yo-yo side (although ramshackle Kenilworth Road in the Champions League would be the stuff of dreams, let’s be honest).

14. Malaga

Malaga are a fallen giant in FM24 (Image credit: Getty Images)In 2010, Malaga got a big-money Qatari takeover – and reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League three years later.

Recently, however, it’s all gone horribly wrong for the one-time La Liga mainstays, who have slipped into the Spanish third tier amid financial woes. Can you transform their fortunes?

15. Manchester City

Manchester City are fully licensed in FM24 (Image credit: Getty Images)Given the cavernously deep pockets of their owners, you shouldn’t have too much trouble in the transfer market if you decide to take charge of Manchester City.

Can you turn the reigning Premier League and European champions into even more of a dominant force, though? It might not be the toughest task in the game, but you could break a fair few records along the way.

Oh, and they’re fully licensed. Real players, real kits. Lush!

16. Newcastle United

The Toon are back in the big time (Image credit: Getty Images)Another club with vast financial resources these days, it rather feels like a matter of when and not if Newcastle become Premier League champions.

In reality, that day is probably still a few years away – but there’s nothing stopping you from ending the Magpies’ almost century-long wait for a league title right away (and maybe winning the Champions League on top of that, too).

17. Paris Saint-Germain

Can you fulfil Kylian’s prophecy? (Image credit: Getty Images)They’ve won it all at domestic level since their 2011 Qatari buyout, but one trophy continues to elude PSG: the Champions League.

With Messi and Neymar gone, Kylian Mbappe is now Les Parisiens’ undisputed main man; can you build a team around him and finally bring European football’s ultimate prize to Paris? It’s certainly fun to throw around money like you just don’t care… even if we judge you for going for a team quite so big.

18. RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig come fully networked in FM24 (Image credit: Getty Images)Bundesliga big boys RB Leipzig aren’t exactly popular with fans of other clubs in Germany, having been accused of ‘buying’ their way to the top.

But, as the stallions in the Red Bull stable of clubs, they’ve got a wide network of prodigious talent from which to draw – and that makes them an appealing outfit to manage in FM24.

19. Strasbourg

Strasbourg are now affiliated with Chelsea (Image credit: Getty Images)Strasbourg were champions of France once – back in 1978/79 – and they could be set for big things in the years ahead, having been bought by Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly’s BlueCo consortium earlier this year.

That Chelsea connection makes for some good potential loan signing opportunities – and you might just be able to work that to your advantage in the game.

20. Wrexham

(Image credit: Getty Images)Wrexham co-owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney want to get the Welsh club to the Premier League – however long it takes.

Fancy helping English football’s two biggest celebrity owners out? The Red Dragons have money to burn in League Two – a mere three tiers below the promised land of the top flight…

Football Manager 2024 drops on November 6, with new features teased ahead of the game’s drop. Netflix is set to carry the game, too.

Miles Jacobson of Sports Interactive, the team behind FM, has spoken to FFT about the introduction of the Japanese J-League, how realistic the Saudi Pro League is in the new game and how set pieces have improved – he’s also revealed that the FM team are constantly playing catchup to the great Pep Guardiola.

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