FM36: Lay of the Land

Published by Al Bear on

I’ve made it, my Football Manager experiment has reached 1st June 2036.

So now, before I start my own managerial career into the unknown, let’s take a look at the world of football in 2036.

Premier League

After several years without a league win Manchester United finally won another in 2018/19. Between then and their 31st Premier League Championship in 2035/36 they traded the title with Manchester City on numerous occasions, in fact the only other team to have won the league was Nottingham Forest in 2033/34, under the leadership of Phil Neville. Neville has been manager at Forest for almost 17 years now, winning 5 cup competitions in addition to that one league title.


The rest of the league looks like this at the end of the 2035/36 season:


You may notice the lack of Everton, who have been relegated from the Premier League no fewer than four times since 2016, the first of which was in the 2016/17 season under Ronald Koeman. Sunderland, Swansea & West Brom are all languishing in League One. The three Championship clubs joining the Premier League for next season will be Aston Villa, Wolves & Birmingham.


As well as Phil Neville at high flying Notts Forest there are several other unexpected managers around.

  • Manchester Utd – Zinedine Zidane
  • Newcastle – James Perch
  • Reading – Jonny Evans
  • Stoke – Eric Dier
  • Brentford – Darren Fletcher
  • Crystal Palace – Paul Pogba
  • Derby – Eddie Howe
  • Aston Villa – Paul Scholes
  • Burton Albion – Gary Cahill
  • Leeds – Charlie Austin
  • Plymouth – Jordan Henderson
  • Sheffield Utd – Steven Davis
  • Coventry – Jermain Defoe
  • Oxford – Joey Barton
  • Rochdale – David Villa
  • Stevenage – Jack Wilshire
  • Tranmere – Joe Cole

Port Vale have had Emile Heskey, Lee Barnard, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Robert Green amongst their managers in the last 20 years.


It’s been 20 years but Gary Neville is still the assistant manager and Dave Watson is still goalkeeping coach for England. They’ve worked with Francesco Guidolin (2016-18), Rafa Benitez (2018-20), Carlo Ancelotti (2020-24), Rudi Garcia (2024-26), Marcelino (2026-28), Luis Enrique (2028-33), Unai Emery (2033-34) and Leonardo Jardim (2034-).

Benitez won the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2019 and Jardim did the same in 2035. But Luis Enrique will go down in history as England’s greatest ever manager, winning the 2030 World Cup (def. Uruguay in the final at the Nou Camp) and the 2032 European Championships (beating Portugal, despite having Southampton defender Jamie Price sent off).

Young Players from 2016

I’d always planned to check out some of the young up & coming players from the present day and seeing how they’ve got on over the following 20 years, did they live up to their promise?

I’ve searched the database for Marcus Rashford and cannot find him anywhere, so I’m not entirely sure what happened to his career. In fact, from browsing around a bit I’ve not seen any familiar names on any teams squad list. After 20 years it’s highly likely that everyone we know has retired


I’ve been pleased to see that Southampton, whowere taken over by Branislav Duris in November 2016, have been ever present in the Premier League in the past 20 years, having consistently finished in the top half of the table and even managing to squeeze into 4th and qualifying for the Champions League twice in the past 5 years.

The club has added a League Cup to it’s domestic honours in 2018, while managed by Roberto Martinez, and then went one better and won the Europa League in 2026 with Sean Dyche’s side beating Stade Rennais 2-1 in the final.

They’ve come close to adding more honours to that list, being Europa League runners up in 2030, FA Cup runners up in 2033 and League Cup runners up in 2036.

What Next?

What’s next for this experiment? I could just keep letting the computer play things out for another 5, 10, 20 years… but when there are no familiar players as reference points any more that may not be as interesting.

It looks like it’s time for me to dust off my tracksuit and find a touchline to stand on and bark orders from. Having put myself in as my real age at the start of this I’m now 56 in the game and still have zero management experience, will anyone take a punt on a guy like me?

There are numerous jobs available at the moment, ranging from Premier League to Vanarama Conference.


I’m going to give it a season, apply for all manner of jobs, and see where I end up. If, after the season ends, I’m still unemployed, then it will be time to create a new young manager and retire the current version of myself.

Next time I blog it will be to tell you where I ended up and what my aims are. Wish me luck!


If you have any particular favourite teams, players, managers, competitions that you’d like to know about just say in the comments and I’ll give you an update on what’s been going on for them in the past 20 years.

Al Bear

This is where I'm meant to tell you a bit about the author. But this is my blog and there's plenty about me on here so it seems a tad redundant.


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