Championship Manager 01/02 - best teams to start with

It’s time to rewrite history. Before you dive back into this Champ Manager classic, however, you’ll need to know the best teams to start with.

best champ manager teams

The 2001/02 edition of Championship Manager is one of the greatest football games of all-time. For me, it sits right up there with Sensible Soccer, Pro Evo 6 and the Road to World Cup ‘98, and I dread to think how many hours of my childhood were consumed by this fun, addictive beast. I wouldn’t give back any of them. 

Now almost 19 years later, this classic management simulation is coming back with a nostalgic vengeance, with thousands of people across the country loading up their old game as they deal with self-isolation. After all, if we’re gonna be stuck inside for the foreseeable future, we might as well get through it with Cherno Samba, Maxim Tsigalko and Mark Kerr.

This is insane, explosive and beautifully simple fun, and it feels a lifetime away from the time-consuming realism of Football Manager. It’s a golden opportunity to rewrite football history and change the landscape of the past 19 years but, with such an endless stream of glorious possibilities, where exactly should you start?

Whether you’re looking for a challenge or just a bit of fun, below you’ll find some of the best teams to start with on Championship Manager 01/02. Strap yourselves in.


1. PSG

screenshot of the PSG squad in championship manager 2001-02
Image from Championship Manager.

Division: Ligue 1

Star Player: Ronaldinho

Background:

10 years before the arrival of Qatar Sports Investments, Paris Saint-Germain were a very different football club. After enjoying a successful period in the mid-1990s, PSG had gone 7 years without a league title, while Olympique Lyon were about to forge an iron grip on the pinnacle of French football. 

However, PSG have just made something of a transfer coup, beating off interest from Barcelona and AC Milan to bring in a toothy-grinned Brazilian kid from Gremio… 

Challenge:

Without the insane money from Qatar, you need to transform PSG into the force they are today. Led by the dazzling talents of Ronaldinho and Jay-Jay Okocha, you need to avoid the rise of Lyon and bring home what the Parisians want most: the Champions League.

2. Valencia

championship manager 01-02 valencia squad
Image from Championship Manager.

Division: La Liga

Star Player: Pablo Aimar

Background:

Every fan of a certain generation knows all about the Valencia side of 2001/02. Boasting the likes of Santiago Canizares, Roberto Ayala and Pablo Aimar, this was a squad which had just finished runners-up in the Champions League and third in La Liga. After years of Barcelona and Madrid dominance, clubs like Valencia and Deportivo La Coruna have an opportunity to break the mould forever. 

Challenge:

Emulate the success of Rafa Benitez and bring home the title, and then build on that triumph to turn Valencia into a true Spanish superpower. You can forget your tiki-taka, we all want to see Aimar’s wizardry for the next ten years instead. 

3. Arsenal

arsenal squad in championship manager 2001-02
Image from Championship Manager.

Division: Premier League

Star Player: Thierry Henry

Background:

The Arsenal squad in 01/02 was just absolutely ridiculous. Having Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires all on the same side should be considered illegal, especially when they’re backed up by Dennis Bergkamp and *ahem” Francis Jeffers.

However, this insane Gunners side has now gone three seasons without the title, going toe-to-toe with an even more ridiculous Manchester United team. After pinching Sol Campbell from local rivals Tottenham, Arsenal have set their sights on reclaiming the English crown once again…

Challenge:

Can you turn Arsenal into “The Invincibles”? This is a squad laden with talent and character, so it’s crazy to think this is still a club without a single Champions League trophy to their name. Fortunately, you can change all that. 

4. Lazio

lazio squad in championship manager 2001-02
Image from Championship Manager.

Division: Serie A

Star Player: Alessandro Nesta

Background:

Led by Sven Goran-Eriksson and the goals of Marcelo Salas, Lazio claimed their second Scudetto in 1999/00, along with the Coppa Italia. The following season, they not only finished in a disappointing third, but they also had to go through the horror of watching arch-rivals AS Roma clinch the title instead. 

Lazio now need to turn the tide back in their favour, and they’ve got the talents of Alessandro Nesta, Gaizka Mendieta and Hernan Crespo to help them do exactly that. 

Challenge:

You enter amidst a raging Roman battlefield. Sky blue battles imperial purple, eagles fight wolves, Hernan Crespo goes up against Gabriel Batistuta. You can choose either side, really, but you need to first capture the city of Rome, and then conquer Milan, Turin, and every other capital of Calcio. Then, on to Europe… 

5. Stockport County

screenshot of the stockport county squad in championship manager 2001
Image from Championship Manager.

Division: English Division 1

Star Player: Shefki Kuqi

Background:

After an impressive 8th-placed finish in 97/98, Stockport County have been clinging onto their Division 1 status ever since. The previous season saw them muster yet another great escape, but miracles are running out at Edgeley Park, and the Hatters are preparing for yet another season of standing on the brink… 

Challenge:

Now, this is a challenge. Stockport were actually relegated in 01/02, then continued to fall down the football ladder until they landed safely in the Conference North. It’s up to you to not only prevent that from happening, but to also beat local rivals Manchester City to Premier League promotion and eventually challenge United. 

6. Castel di Sangro

castel di sangro squad in champ manager 01-02
Image from Championship Manager.

Division: Serie C1B

Star Player: Girolamo D’Alessandro

Background:

This is one for those who have read the fantastic book by Joe McGinnis, and presents the perfect opportunity to perform your own “Miracle of Castel di Sangro”. If you aren’t familiar with the story, Castel di Sangro are a tiny, obscure side from the Abruzzo region of Italy, who claimed fame in 1996 by miraculously winning promotion to Serie B. 

On Championship Manager 01/02, the Giallorossi have since been relegated to Serie C1B, with the locals wanting nothing more than yet another “miracle”... 

Challenge:

Simply reaching the glitz and glamour of Serie A would be an unbelievable achievement. You need to go one better than the previous miracle, combatting crippling financial issues to take Castel di Sangro to the top table of Calcio. Just don’t upset the owners, they sound a bit scary. 

7.  Ajax

ajax sqaud in championship manager 2001-01
Image from Championship Manager.

Division: Eredivisie

Star Player: Christian Chivu

Background:

As always seems to be the case, the Ajax side of 01/02 was packed with some truly special wonderkids. Rafael van der Vaart leads the latest crop of youngsters to come through De Toekomst, while a 19-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovich is spearheading the assault on reclaiming the Eredivisie title. 

This is a short period of PSV and Feyenoord dominance, and Ajax are hoping their latest team of young guns can lead them back to the top of not only Holland, but the whole of Europe. 

Challenge:

The first step is keeping hold of all these awesome youngsters. The next step is developing them into a team which can bring back the European glory of Johan Cruyff. If you can get them playing Total Football, well, that’s an added bonus.

8. Atlético Madrid

championship manager atletico madrid squad 01-02
Image from Championship Manager.

Division: Segunda Division

Star Player: Juninho Paulista

Background: 

At the turn of the century, Atlético Madrid were in turmoil. After surprisingly winning the title in 95-96, a string of poor signings, changes in management and, finally, a legal investigation into the club hierarchy, led to a devastating relegation in the summer of 2000. 

The 00-01 season saw Los Rojiblancos narrowly miss out on promotion back to La Liga’s top table, and Championship Manager picks up with the club desperate to return to where they belong. They’ve even got a young Fernando Torres to help them do it. 

Challenge:

You need to do what Diego Simeone has done, and transform this young Atlético Madrid side into one of the top sides in Europe. Promotion should be achieved in your first season, then it’s just the small matter of challenging Barca, Real, Valencia, and anyone else who stands in your way. 


If you’re looking for a real nostalgia fix, then enjoy Championship Manager with some awesome retro football shirts! Compare prices at FOOTY.COM today, and take over one of these sides while wearing their kit from 00/01…

I'm a huge Manchester United fan who's always up for a quick game of FIFA. It's just a shame I'm not any good.