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5 Real-Life Managers to Inspire Your Next Football Manager Challenge

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Emulate the careers of Marcelo Bielsa, Sir Bobby Robson, Leo Beenhakker, and Carlos Alberto Parreira in your next Football Manager save.
Football Manager Challenges Inspired by Real-Life Managers

Emulate the careers of Marcelo Bielsa, Sir Bobby Robson, Leo Beenhakker, and Carlos Alberto Parreira in your next Football Manager save.


Football Manager players are given free reign to play the game in any way they want, so it’s no surprise that they go on to have crazy adventures in the game. However, some real-life managers have accomplished similar careers despite the odds. Whether it is going all over the world at the height of your powers or making it a career of managing national teams, these managers had an incredible career worth emulating on Football Manager.

Marcelo Bielsa


Argentina’s own madman, Bielsa, has managed in many clubs and is adored in nearly all of them. Despite his famous bad luck in finals, he’s become a cult name thanks to his playing philosophy, his dissertation-style press conferences and the amazing football his teams play (right until the key games).

After failing to make it as a professional, Bielsa started from the bottom as a manager, eventually going on to manage his beloved Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina and taking them to a continental final. His finest hour was supposed to come as Argentina National Team Manager, where he created a fantastic team featuring the likes of Batistuta, Crespo, Zanetti and Verón, among others, but injuries, bad luck and tactical stubbornness saw them out in the group stages of the 2002 World Cup.

Marcelo Bielsa

From there, he’s managed in Mexico, Spain, France and England, with stints as NT manager in Chile and now Uruguay too. Emulating Bielsa in FM can prove tricky, but El Loco wouldn’t have it any other way.

Marcelo Bielsa Challenge:


  • Start with a Professional Footballer (local level) reputation and National C Licence in the bottom leagues of your chosen country or region.
  • Pick a desired playing style and NEVER change it.
  • Move up the ladder to manage your favourite team and win the league with them.
  • Go on to manage your National Team.
  • Move on to manage in as many big leagues as possible, but never a top side.
  • Lose as many finals as possible (optional)
 

Sir Bobby Robson


Another manager who is adored in pretty much every club he’s managed, Sir Bobby Robson, is undoubtedly one of the best managers of all time. After a long and successful career as a player, he went on to have a great career as a manager, with a 13-year spell in charge of Ipswich Town that saw him crowned as FA Cup winner in 1978 and UEFA Cup champion in 1981.

From there, he went on a Grand Tour-style career, managing in The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain at a time when English managers rarely left the British Isles. It was there that he would make another of his biggest impacts in football, recognizing and rewarding the coaching talents of his translator (one José Mourinho) and young neighbour (a kid called André Villas-Boas). Along the way, he would discover a generational talent in Ronaldo Nazario and fulfilled the dream of managing FC Barcelona before returning to England to manage his beloved Newcastle United. An absolutely epic career.

Sir Bobby Robson Challenge:


  • Start with a Professional Footballer (national level) reputation and National A Licence, and pick a dream job in a top club worldwide
  • Find a lower leagues team in your home nation and take them to national and continental success
  • Go on a European tour, managing in as many leagues as you can.
  • Pick up a young protegé and develop him as a manager.
  • Move on to get your dream job and unearth a wonderkid (extra points for a Brazilian striker)
  • Return to your home nation to manage your favourite club
 

Leo Beenhakker


For Robson, it was the calling of his home that got him to move when he was at the height of his career. For Leo Beenhakker, it was the call of adventure. The Dutch manager stood at the Rotterdam docks as a kid, looking at the ships and wondering what it was like to travel the world, and he did.

After an injury cut his career short at 24, Beenhakker became the youngest manager in the Netherlands to hold an A licence. He built up his reputation in the lower reaches of the Dutch game, before landing the Ajax job in 1979. There he would win the league and move on to Spain, coaching Real Zaragoza and then Real Madrid, with a short stint as Netherlands manager in the middle.

There, at the top of the world, he would give it up to answer his childhood call. First, Grasshoppers in Switzerland, then the Saudi Arabian National Team, Club América in México and a stint in Turkey. Then, he would take perhaps his most incredible job taking Trinidad and Tobago to the World Cup in 2006 before failing to do the same with Poland in 2010.

Leo Beenhakker Challenge:


  • Start with a Semi-Professional Footballer reputation and National A Licence in the bottom leagues of your chosen country or region.
  • Build up your reputation until landing the top job in the nation
  • Move on to a top club in Europe
  • Leave it all behind to manage in lower reputation leagues across as many continents as possible.
  • Pick up an international job and manage the impossible getting a nation to their first ever World Cup.
 

Carlos Alberto Parreira


Then again, if international football is the name of the game few people have Carlos Albeto Parreira beaten. The iconic Brazilian manager was a staple of the international game for over 40 years, first starting his career in 1967 and going strong until 2014.

He got his first gig almost by accident. It was 1967, and Brazilian football was in the middle of the Pelé era, so the head of the Ghana National team called the Rio de Janeiro University asking for candidates to manage the team; they recommended their best student, 23-year-old Carlos Alberto Parreira. From there, he would become the assistant to Brazil’s coach Mario Zagallo in the 1970 World Cup and would have a couple of runs with his beloved Fluminense, before returning to international management in 1978 with Kuwait and taking them to Spain 1982.

His best hour would undoubtedly come in 1994, when he led the Brazil team to their fourth World Cup title, the first since 1970. Despite no experience as a footballer, Parreira took part in six World Cups as a manager, also managing the UAE in 1990, Saudi Arabia in 1998, Brazil again in 2006 and South Africa in 2010.

Carlos Alberto Parreira Challenge:


  • Start with a Sunday League Footballer reputation and National A Licence in a National Team ranked outside the current top 100 in the FIFA Men's World Ranking (make sure to select a team beforetime to create the game DB accordingly).
  • Go on to manage as many National Teams as possible, qualifying for as many World Cups as possible (six is the number to beat).
  • Win the World Cup with your home nation
  • Club managing in between accepted, but not necessary.
 

Neil Warnock


Some managers undoubtedly reach the top of their field, winning the biggest trophies and managing the biggest teams. For others, the rewards lay in the job well done. Such is the case of Neil Warnock, who, through an incredible 43 years in managing since getting his first job in 1980, has been in charge of just barely over 100 top-tier games, taking part in just four Premier League seasons.

After a somewhat uneventful playing career, Warnock started his life as a coach as low as 8th tier of English football, in the Northern Premier League with Gainsborough Trinity in 1980. A master of the old-school route one style of play, he progressed through the ranks, eventually landing the job at his boyhood club Sheffield United in December 1999. He took the Blades to the semi-finals of the League Cup and FA Cup in 2002–03, and eventually to a Premier League promotion in 2005-06.

Neil Warnock

Since then, Warnock has (probably unwillingly) become the quintessential Championship manager, managing as many as eight clubs in the second tier of English football, and achieving promotion with three of them (Sheffield United, QPR and Cardiff) but never managing to stay in the top flight.

Neil Warnock Challenge:


  • Start with a Professional Footballer (regional level) reputation and National C Licence in the bottom leagues of your chosen country or region.
  • Adopt a direct approach to tactics and NEVER change it.
  • Make your way up to the second tier of your country’s pyramid, but never take a top job.
  • Win as many promotions to the top tier as possible but never settle in a first division job.

Conclusion


In this blog post, we have looked at five real-life managers who have inspired some of the most popular challenges in Football Manager. These managers have all had successful careers, and their challenges are a great way to test your managerial skills and have some fun with the game.

Whether you're a fan of attacking football, defensive organization, or international management, there's a challenge here for you. So why not give one of them a try? You might just be surprised at how much fun you have.

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FM Blog | FM24: 5 Real-Life Managers to Inspire Your Next Football Manager Challenge
5 Real-Life Managers to Inspire Your Next Football Manager Challenge
Emulate the careers of Marcelo Bielsa, Sir Bobby Robson, Leo Beenhakker, and Carlos Alberto Parreira in your next Football Manager save.
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