With Juventus winning the league in the last three years and still having a strong squad, will you be able to turn The Rossoneri around and win the league, as well as do well in Europe?
By following this guide, hopefully you will get Milan back on top and help the team regain the title of the World's Best Team.
AC Milan Key InformationFounded: 16 December 1899
Ground: San Siro
Chairman: Silvio Berlusconi
CEO: Adriano Galliani
Head Coach: Filippo Inzaghi
Captain: Ricardo Montolivo
League: Serie A
Finances and BudgetThe club is is debt and you will not have a lot of budget to work with. Moreover, if you don’t manage your wage & transfer budget properly, the chairman will decrease the transfer revenue made available to either 50% or 75%.
The minimum budget offered is £6m and a wage budget that is already too small to add other players. If you go for Champions League qualification, you get a budget of £7m and around the same wage budget, and if you believe you can challenge for the title, you get a transfer budget of £7.75 and, again, the same wage budget.
ExpectationsThe club expects you to qualify for Europe League at a minimum. You can also go for a more ambitious target, but the difference in budget offered to you is not considerable, so the risk might not be worth it.
The Italian Cup is not important for the team and you will not be judged upon it.
Best TacticsIn my opinion there are three tactics you can employ as the manager of The Rossoneri.
4-2-4This is by far my favourite, as it not only allows you to use all the offensive resources you have at your disposal, but it also allows you to offload several high-earners who will not be needed anymore.
The back four is pretty much self-explanatory, but it will often be the Achille’s heel for your team, should you choose to employ this tactic, so make sure you improve the defence.
This will allow the wingbacks to run high up the pitch, while the two wingers set as playmakers will sit narrow and will make space for the wingbacks to overlap and cross. The wingers will be required to track back as well, so be on the lookout for talented players with a high work rate.
The two attackers will be a Deep-Lying Forward and an Advanced Forward where you already have two good options (Torres and Pazzini), while the midfield duo is a Ball-Winning Midfielder (such as Poli or De Jong) and a Roaming playmaker (Honda or Montolivo).
Starting XI for this tactic: Lopez - De Sciglio, Alex, Rami, Armero - Honda, De Jong - Menez (AMR), El Shaarawy (AML) - Torres, Pazzini
4-3-1-2This is a quite standard tactic for Milan and is possible to employ because the team has lots of midfielders in Montolivo, Bonaventura, Muntari, Essien, Honda, De Jong and van Ginkel who can fill all the positions. For this narrow tactic I would go with three CM, a Ball-Winning Midfielder, a Box-to-Box Midfielder and a Deep-Lying playmaker and with an Advanced playmaker as the AM (Honda is the best for this position).
The disadvantage of using this tactic is the fact that Menez and El Shaarawy, two key players for the team, will not be able to play in their favourite positions out wide, but will have to play either upfront or as attacking midfielders.
Starting XI for this tactic: Lopez - De Sciglio, Alex, Rami, Armero - Muntari, De Jong, Essien (Montolivo instead when he comes back) - Honda - Pazzini, El Shaarawy.
4-2-3-1This is a tactic I have often employed at AC Milan and this year’s squad also allows it, the advantage of it being that you will be able to use all your key players.
I would go with a BWM and a Deep-Lying playmaker as the two CM and with El Shaarawy (AML), Honda (AMC) and Menez (AMR) supporting Pazzini, who will be a lone-striker upfront.
This is a tactic that would allow you to play wide and make use of two star wingers and also have a cynical striker upfront, but with so many offensive players, you will have to ask the two central midfielders to hold back more often, unless you want quicker teams to catch you on the counter.
Starting XI for this tactic: Lopez - De Sciglio, Alex, Rami, Armero - Muntari, De Jong - Menez, Honda, El Shaarawy- Pazzini.
Starting XI Positional AnalysisIn the first season, Milan has lots of players who can be offloaded because they are high-earners and do not provide as much as they earn. There are lots of defenders and midfielders in the squad, but you will quickly notice that investing in the midfield and the attack is very important in the first season, depending on the tactic used.
The first choice has to be Diego Lopez. The former Real Madrid goalkeeper is an excellent shot stopper. He often becomes unsettled midway through the first season, but a leave of absence will ensure that he is back with the team and happy again. He has good reflexes, is good in the air, positions himself well and keeps concentration.
The second choice is Abbiati and he should be good enough as a back-up. You can offload Agazzi, as he is surplus to requirements, but keep in mind that Lopez might want a leave of absence of 4-6 weeks and then you would need Agazzi to provide cover for Abbiati.
The obvious choice here is De Sciglio, who is also one of the game’s wonderkids. He is going to be tracked by big teams, including PSG, and you might have a difficult time to keep him. If you think the offers received for him are difficult to reject, you can sell him, but I would advise against. I think De Sciglio should be kept for at least a few years and with Abate as a decent back-up, you should be set for this position.
The best defenders are Alex and Rami, but both are quite slow. I would advise against playing the two of them together, but for buying a quicker defender to partner with Alex. Zapata is a decent back-up too.
You need to get rid of Albertazzi, Zaccardo and Bonera - you might not be happy with their performances.
Armero is the first choice, a good one for the first season. I advise buying a cheap back-up player to fill in the position for when Armero is injured or suspended. This is one of the positions that needs strengthening at the beginning of the game.
I rarely employ a defensive midfielder in my tactical set-up, but if you go for it, De Jong is the first choice, and the only decent one for that matter. You would need a back-up player for him, as Mutari and Essien can’t live up to the expectations.
De Jong and Montolivo are best here, but the latter is injured until midway through the season. Instead, you could use Honda here, but surprisingly enough, van Ginkel also did well for me in this position. This is, however, another position where you would need to make a key transfer. Dominating the midfield in FM is big and if you’re able to do this well, you might have a chance at the Scudetto.
Right Midfielders / Wingers
There are several players who can play in this position, but the obvious first choice is Jeremy Menez. He has a good first touch, dribbling, technique and flair and really good speed. He will be a beast if employed there and will provide you with lots of assists for the players upfront. Although his crossing ability is only average, I’ve noticed that he does really well in this position thanks to his dribbling abilities and speed.
However, when looking at a potential back-up, the second choice is not so easy to pick. Niang, van Ginkel and Bonaventura can all play in this position, but none of them seems ready to take onto the same challenges as Menez successfully does.
Honda is the best choice here and you should be covered in this position, with other players such as El Shaarawy, Bonaventura, van Ginkel and Montolivo also able to provide behind the strikers.
Left Midfielders / Wingers
El Shaarawy is the best for this position. He has good stats for a 22-year old and there is a lot of space for him to grow, but the Italian is unfortunatelly injury prone and you can expect him to be sidelined quite some time during the seasons. In this case, you will need a back-up. I’ve noticed that after he settles in (which took a bit time for him), Bonaventura is more than able to provide cover, so I don’t think you need to buy a replacement - not in the first season anyway.
There are many players who decide to cash in on El Shaarawy and reinvest the money. This is also a possibility, but I would advise to keep him and sell him for more a couple of seasons in. You risk, however, to run into long periods in which he is injured and will therefore not be able to cash in big on him, but this is a risk I would be willing to take.
Upfront you are also well covered. You have Pazzini, Torres and El Shaarawy, who is also a natural striker. Pazzini has been a beast for me in the first season, with 29 goals scored, but he is old and will not be able to provide for more than a couple of seasons. Torres is also good, but he is also a high earner, so you might want to sent him back to Chelsea after a season if you've found a good replacement for him.
Niang is also an option, but I’ve noticed that he is far from being ready to provide for the first team, so I often bring him in during the game to give him play time. Don’t expect him to be the 20+ goals-per-season-striker you need - not in the first seasons, at least.
WeaknessesThe first team is quite strong, but the back-ups are quite far from standard. if you will be hit by an injury crysis, you can expect the team to drop in form because of the poor quality of the back-up players. If you choose to play with wingers, Menez is the best choice for the right-hand side, but there is no decent back-up for him.
If you employ two strikers, you will also notice that Niang is your only option available (provided El Shaarawy and Menez are used as wingers). Niang is not ready for the first team yet.
Another potential weakness is the left back role. Armero should be the first choice, with De Sciglio on the right. Although the Italian can play on the left side as well, he is best on the right, so keep him there as the first choice. This means that an injury to Armero would require you to fill the position with Albertazzi, who is the only other option available in your squad. You might want to invest in a player here.
Youth AcademyThe youth academy, although the facilities are on top, didn’t produce anything for many years and the only interesting prospect is Hachim Mastour. He could potentially become a leading Serie A star under the right guidance, but it will be difficult to give him playing time in the first season, if all your other players are fit.
If you loan him out, make sure you loan him to a team that promises him play time, otherwise his time spent away won’t be worth it.
SummaryA.C. Milan is one of the best challenges in Football Manager and it has been for years. However, this year, the challenge of awakening the giant seems even more interesting, because the squad is actually decent and gives you more tactical flexibility than in the previous games.
Returning the club to its successful days will not be an easy task. Winning the Champions League will probably take a few years, but it is possible and also probable, if you play your cards right.
I am looking forward to your stories
Have fun. Forza Rossoneri!