What do non-football people do in the evenings or at the weekend? How do they function?
Fortunately, football is always with us – in one way or another. If we can’t watch football, or can’t even play football, we can always play Football Manager.
The game that tests your ability to manage a squad, delve smartly into the transfer market and keep everyone happy. (Quick tip, don’t just go on holiday in between fixtures because the squad will probably hate you pretty soon).
Anyway, it can be pretty dull winning the Champions League year after year with Manchester City or Real Madrid, after signing Neymar and Kylian Mbappé for £900m. I think I got ripped off on that deal actually, in hindsight.
Spare a thought instead for the supporters who have enjoyed the highest highs of our beautiful game, and our now suffering the lows that most of us football fans experience on a yearly basis.
So, to fill you with inspiration and determination to right the wrongs of the cruel mistress that is football, 90min has put together a list of former great teams that you could restore to former glories.
It may come as a surprise to some, but no one has won the Ligue 1 title more times than Saint-Étienne. Between 1957 and 1981, the French side topped the table ten times, and they have lifted the Coupe de France on six occasions. Basically, they were the team to beat.
But the glory days are well behind them. Les Verts have fallen by the wayside in France in recent decades, and even slumped into the second division in 2001. With Paris Saint-Germain crushing every opponent in their wake, can you help Saint-Étienne shock the football world and stop the filthy-rich club from beating the titles record?
A proper sleeping giant. Milan have blessed us all with some of the most star-studded teams in history, winning a huge 18 Serie A titles. Their last success came in 2011, but I Rossoneri’s story has been one of misery and decline ever since. Financial mismanagement and poor transfer dealings have left the club miles off the pace of runaway champions Juventus, and there is little hope surrounding this new Milan cycle.
That’s where you come in. Sift through the squad, sell most of the overrated, overpaid squad members and begin building an exciting, young Milan team. It’s time to return I Rossoneri back to the top of the Serie A tree, and give the San Siro faithful a team to be proud of!
One of the true fallen giants in English football. League winners, two-time European Cup holders, Nottingham Forest were the pride of England in the 1970’s and 80’s. But those days are a distant memory for the Tricky Trees.
The 21st century has been full of pain for Forest supporters, who are desperate to return to the promised land once more – where they rightly belong. It feels like hundreds of managers have had a crack at promotion in that time, but none have succeeded. Are you up to the task?
Deportivo La Coruña
Deportivo La Coruna
1999: La Liga Champions
2000, 2001: 2nd place
2002, 2003: 3rd place
Champions League quarter-finalists 2001 and 2002.
Champions League semi-finalists in 2003.
Now bottom of the second division, likely getting relegated to the third division in Spain. ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/a6KZiTFQUE
— Sean Monaghan (@SeanMonaghanSM) December 16, 2019
Deportivo La Coruña’s time at the top of Spanish football, was brief – to say the least. The Blue and Whites won the Spanish title in 2000, and lifted the Copa del Rey twice, during a spell of exciting football which lasted just over a decade.
But the days of Roy Makaay and Diego Tristan are long gone, and Deportivo find themselves deeply entrenched in the Spanish Segunda, with little sign of a La Liga return on the cards. A beautiful badge and a memorable shirt – go and save that club!
Grande Torino. Fondly remembered as one of the greatest sides to have ever taken to the field, Torino dominated Italian football in the 1940’s. They won the league five times during that decade, and their superstars were the spine of the Italian national team, too.
Tragedy struck in 1949 however, when a plane carrying the Toro squad crashed killing all 31 passengers on board. The heights achieved by that group of heroes have never been reached again (apart from one title success in 1976), and the club continues to live in the shadows of their bitter, local rivals Juventus. Is it time for the Old Lady to experience some noisy neighbours in Serie A?
Not every third division side boasts a 50,000 seater stadium. And that might be because, not many third division teams have suffered the shocking fall from grace that has hit Kaiserslautern. The German side enjoyed the majority of their success in the 1990’s, picking up two Bundesliga titles in 1991 and 1998, and scooping the DFB-Pokal Cup in 1991 and 1998.
But the club soon fell on hard times, suffering relegation to the second tier in 2012, and then dropping to the third tier in 2018. Need I say more? Just the two promotions and overcoming heavyweights Bayern are needed to restore pride at this club. That’ll keep you busy.
How can I enjoy a realistic test in La Liga when Barcelona and Real Madrid have dominated Spanish football since its birth? Well, they haven’t. Athletic Bilbao boast a wonderful big stadium, a proud history and a legacy of Basque stars. Los Leones have won eight La Liga titles in their history – the last coming in 1984 – but they are no longer the powerhouses they once were.
But with the normal La Liga favourites far from the height of their powers, a gap has opened up in the market for a new sheriff to swagger into town. And why not Bilbao? A caveat though. Genuine managerial skills might be needed for this one, given your pool of possible signings comes only from the Basque country! No buying the latest Brazilian wonderkid in this career.
Similarly to Nottingham Forest, Leeds United have been away from the top flight for far too long. The younger generation of supporters would probably laugh in disbelief if they saw the club’s brilliant football and well-stocked trophy cabinet from years gone by.
League titles, FA Cups, adventures in Europe – Leeds were a regular among the English first division’s elite. But ever since their relegation in 2004, it has been nothing but tough times for the Elland Road faithful. In Marcelo Bielsa however, there is renewed hope, and they look set to end their wait for top-flight glory once again. But can you win over the success-deprived Leeds fanbase and transport them back to the glory days of old?
Go on – march on together.