The Championship, in my opinion, is the most competitive and entertaining league in world football. Every year it’s jam-packed with shock results, unpredictable relegation scraps, guaranteed dark horses and surprise packages, and so much more.
There’s nothing not to love! So here’s a guide to the top 5 best teams to manage in the Championship on Football Manager 2021.
Brentford were very unlucky not to get promoted in the 2019/20 season and are likely to lose a lot of key players this transfer window, with the likes of Ollie Watkins and Saïd Benrahma inevitably attracting interest from Premier League clubs. So it will certainly be an interesting challenge managing the Bees.
They will however make a substantial amount of profit on those two sales should the pair leave the West London side, which will allow for you to make a number of signings to make the promotion push again this season.
Brentford are currently being linked with moves for the likes of Ivan Toney who for sure would be a delight to use in the their set up. Brentford also have an impeccable scouting system, which in real life has seen them pick up gems for minimal amounts of spend. In previews saves, I’ve seen Brentford’s scouts be poached by Premier League sides, so that’s certainly something you could use to your advantage.
2. Wycombe Wanderers
A Wycombe save has the potential to be an interesting one, to say the least. Many Football League fans were blown away when Gareth Ainsworth’s men defeated Oxford United under the arch of Wembley to gain promotion to the Championship.
After finishing 8th in League 1, two places outside the play off positions, the season was concluded early due to COVID-19 concerns and the final league table was decided based on a points-per-game system. Due to Wycombe having games in hand, this meant they were awarded a finish in the play offs, which was certainly met with some questions being asked of the method.
Remarkably, Wycombe are now a Championship club and would be an exciting and interesting challenge to see if you could take them one step further, to the promised land. With a small budget, and being seen as a ‘small club’ compared to some teams in the Championship, Wycombe would certainly be a challenge, but who doesn’t love an underdog story?
No one likes them, and they really don’t care. Can you take Millwall to the top flight once again and become a legend at the Den? For me, Millwall could prove to be dark horses in the Championship promotion race this season.
With one of the smaller budgets in the league, Neil Harris made the Londoners a defensively solid team who were very difficult to beat, especially at home. That’s no surprise with an atmosphere like Millwall have, intimidating like no other ground.
Gary Rowett has taken over and introduced a more attacking style to the Lions and mounted a late play off push towards the later stages of the previous campaign. So with a few signings, to add to the likes of Troy Parrott who has joined on a season-long loan from Tottenham, Millwall could be a decent option to go with next year.
4. Preston North End
Preston are always the side who seem to challenge all season long and just fall away at the few final hurdles, but can you take them that one step further?
It’s been 60 years since the Lilywhites have experienced top-flight football, but after recent seasons, you get the feeling the next appearance in the top division isn’t too far away. They have some top-quality players such as Ben Pearson, Ben Davies, Alan Browne, and Scott Sinclair, who are all more than impressive on Football Manager.
The only position they really lack is an out-and-out goalscorer. So get that choice of forward right, and you could earn Preston that hugely desired promotion. But with one of the smallest budgets in the Championship and a very specific transfer policy, Preston would no doubt be a difficult save.
5. AFC Bournemouth
Finally, I’ve chosen a team that’s been relegated from the Premier League in Bournemouth. I can see the Cherries losing a number of key players in this window and whilst making a lot of profit from those sales, buying the right targets that fit the Championship is never an easy job.
I believe there is going to be a much-needed rebuilding job at the club and that’s why it could be the ideal Football Manager project. If they hold on to players such as Callum Wilson, promotion straight back to the Premier League could be on the cards, but if they don’t get it right in the market, we could be seeing a Sunderland-style back to back relegation into League 1.
So certainly an interesting task at hand, all dependent on Bournemouth’s activity in the window.
In conclusion, we know the Championship is a league where anyone can beat anyone, which means any team can realistically mount a promotion push should they make some smart choices in the windows. So these are the 5 teams I’d suggest would be an interesting ride in the Championship. Good luck!