Football Manager 2024: We simulated the end of the Premier League '23/'24 season

By Ford James, Contributor

Football Manager 2024 is renowned for its ability to identify and predict the stars of the future, to the point where real-world clubs use the same data for their scouting networks. While it's still a video game at heart, the sheer amount of information it uses to simulate the virtual football landscape is staggering.

We decided to put it through its paces to determine which team Football Manager 2024 thinks will win the Premier League at the end of this season.

Note: We used FMRTE to recreate the Premier League and Championship as they currently stand, with every match so far this season—including the points deductions for Everton and Nottingham Forest. However, it does not include cup competitions, so we've ignored those. It also doesn't have up-to-date injuries, so players with long-term injuries (such as Liverpool's Alisson Becker and Chelsea's Reece James) remained available.

We ran the simulation 10 times to get a better picture of Football Manager 2024's predictions. Here's what happened.

Championship promotion

Starting with the Championship: Leicester are the favorites and there's a reason for that, because the midlands-based team won our simulated league eight times and finished second twice.

The two runner-up finishes for the Jamie Vardy-led outfit? Leeds United won the league once by overtaking Leicester on the final day, and Ipswich Town went on a tremendous run, winning five, drawing two, and only losing once on the final day of the season. Leeds, meanwhile, lost to Cardiff City in the playoff semi-final.

So it's a good day to be a Leicester or a Leeds fan, as the latter got promoted eight times, even if only one of those was as champions. The most exciting moment for Leeds fans came during their simulated playoff final though, after Southampton knocked them down into third on the final day of the season. In extra time against Ipswich Town, with just three minutes left on the clock before penalties at Wembley, Joel Piroe scored a last minute curler from the edge of the box to win 2-1. Elland Road must've been bouncing.

Overall, the most common top three in the Championship was Leicester City, Leeds United, and Southampton, as they finished second twice and won the playoffs four times. However, Norwich City fans should hold a little hope as they got promoted twice via the playoffs. Ipswich Town also recorded a second place finish and a playoff final win alongside their league win. And even Hull City won the playoffs once, for their single promotion.

Here are the final stats from our simulations:

Leicester City: 8x 1st, 2x 2nd
Leeds United: 1x 1st, 5x 2nd, 2x 3rd
Southampton: 2x 2nd, 4x 3rd
Ipswich Town: 1x 1st, 1x 2nd, 1x 3rd
Norwich City: 2x 3rd
Hull City: 1x 3rd

Premier League relegation

What about the teams on their way down, switching places with the promoted teams? Sheffield United are the favorites for relegation—and I'm sorry Blades fans, but you were relegated in all ten simulations. Seven of those were in dead last, including one season where you didn't get a single point and only scored two goals in the remaining ten matches. You did finish in 18th once though, winning four back-to-back games at the end of the season, and another with a six match unbeaten run.

Unfortunately for the Hatters, Luton were also relegated at every opportunity. They only finished 20th once though, with three 19th-place finishes and six in 18th. There were a couple of agonizingly close calls though, including one season where Luton only went down on goal difference to Nottingham Forest, and another season just one point behind them.

Burnley managed to save themselves from relegation three times, with Nottingham Forest going down in their stead every time. At one point, Burnley demolished Forest 4-0, while another season saw the Clarets beat Chelsea, Wolves, Newcastle, and Spurs.

Here are the final stats:

Sheffield United: 7x 20th, 1x 19th, 2x 18th
Luton Town: 1x 20th, 3x 19th, 6x 18th
Burnley: 2x 20th, 4x 19th, 1x 18th
Nottingham Forest: 2x 19th, 1x 18th

Premier League winners and European qualification

Now for the grand finale. Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal are all within touching distance of the title, and behind them, there are any number of teams that could make the European places.

I'll get the bad news out of the way first for any Gunners reading: Arsenal didn't win the league in any of our 10 simulations. They finished third in nine seasons, with one second place finish. Their closest title challenge came in a season when they finished third however, as the top three teams were separated by only a single point. Arsenal drew 1-1 with Manchester United, lost 2-0 to Tottenham, and lost 2-1 to Manchester City during the final stretch.

Down in the European places, it's bad news for the Red Devils too, as Manchester United didn't break the top four once, thus failing to qualify for the Champions League. They did, however, finish in the top six and gain Europa League qualification on all but one occasion, when they somehow dropped down to eighth. This drastic drop resulted in the sacking of Erik ten Hag and was thanks to losses against Brentford, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, and Arsenal. Funnily enough, this woeful streak did include a 2-1 win over Liverpool, which stopped their historic rivals winning the league. Swings and roundabouts, eh?

In all ten seasons, fourth place went to either Aston Villa or Tottenham Hotspur, with each club taking five apiece. Spurs fared better overall as they never finished lower than fifth, whereas Villa had a few sixth-place finishes included. In one season, Ollie Watkins bagged nine goals in ten matches to help Villa achieve top four, which would delight Fantasy Premier League fans everywhere.

Chelsea and Newcastle United—two teams severely underperforming in the middle of the table right now—had somewhat impressive climbs during the tail end of our simulated seasons though, with the boys in blue even making sixth place once for that second Europa League spot. They also had three seasons where they qualified for the Europa Conference League, while Newcastle had five seasons making it that high.

Brighton & Hove Albion also made it into Europe on occasion, toppling Newcastle, Manchester United, and drawing with Chelsea and Manchester City to achieve it. Were it not for a loss to Bournemouth and a draw with Brentford, the Seagulls could have finished even higher. West Ham were the other team who managed a single Conference League qualification, with an impressive six wins, one draw, and just two losses from their last ten games. These included beating Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham, along with a draw against Manchester City on the final day.

Of course, you've likely worked out that all ten simulations were between Manchester City and Liverpool for the title. It's the Reds who came out just on top though, as they won the Premier League six times out of ten, with City taking the other four. Liverpool finished second every time they didn't win the league, but Manchester City actually had a singular third place finish too, where they lost to Forest and drew with Palace, while Liverpool won seven and drew two in their final stint.

One of the biggest upcoming matches for Liverpool is when they face Manchester United at Old Trafford in April, following on from their 4-3 extra time defeat in real life in the FA Cup. In 10 meetings in our simulations, they only managed to win two, which was often one of the only games preventing them from winning the league. One of these iconic clashes was a 3-0 rout with a Diogo Jota brace during a period where they went completely unbeaten since their 3-1 over Burnley in February. Jota also scored nine goals in the simulated period, on par with Ollie Watkins as the highest we saw in any simulation.

Here are the final stats:

Liverpool: 1st x6, 2nd x4
Manchester City: 1st x4, 2nd x5, 3rd x1
Arsenal: 2nd x1, 3rd x9
Tottenham Hotspur: 4th x5, 5th x5
Aston Villa: 4th x5, 5th x2, 6th x3
Manchester United: 5th x3, 6th x6
Chelsea: 6th x1, 7th x3
Newcastle United: 7th x5
Brighton & Hove Albion: 7th x1
West Ham United: 7th x1

So there we have it, Liverpool fans! It's looking like this may well be your year once again, although Manchester City have every chance of putting a stop to that. Arsenal don't seem to be up to the challenge this year, while it's anybody's guess who will round out the top four.

Meanwhile, the drop is beckoning for Sheffield United, Luton Town, and Burnley—but if they're lucky, Nottingham Forest will save one of them and go down in their place. Leicester City and Leeds United appear bound for promotion back to the hallowed lands, but who will join them? Time will tell.

Don't trust our simulations—or just don't like the results? You can pick up Football Manager 2024 on the Epic Games Store and run your own.