Playmaker’s top tier Power Rankings

2020/03/16 21:03
By Connor Andrews

We run down our top 10 best performing teams from England's top four tiers.

BUT! This week we’re taking a seasonal look, rather than going over the week’s action, for obvious reasons.

Number of games played are taken into consideration, as are domestic cups, and we’re including European cups and the EFL trophy in this edition, in order to take a seasonal look, and cast an eye over the team's futures. 

So here’s Playmaker’s definitive top 10 of England’s top four tiers in 2019/20 so far...

10th, Coventry

1st in League One, 8 Power Ranking appearances

©Getty / Catherine Ivill

Coventry managed to break their 38 year hoodoo of no top six finishes in 2018, before securing a return to League One, but recent history has still been far from fun for their fans, with stadium disasters putting their future in jeopardy.

This season at least though, has been pretty joyful, as Coventry have risen to the top of an extremely competitive third tier, and look like the cream of the crop, poised for a first league title since 1967, and a return to the Championship.

Mark Robin’s side have been taking points from the likes of Sunderland and Rochdale in recent weeks, and with 14 goal Matt Godden stepping up again and again, a likely return to the second tier might be the impetus needed to secure a more permanent home than St. Andrews.



9th, Millwall

8th in the Championship, 3 Power Ranking appearances

©Getty / Cardiff City FC

It was a case of what tint your glasses had at the end of 2018/19 for Millwall, but a 21st placed finish, one position above the bottom three, could only really be a bad thing. 

Four points from disaster is worse than it looks as it was a relatively comfortable end to the season with a big cushion, but considering the three below them were write-offs from early on, Millwall were very much the worst of the rest.

They gave club legend Neil Harris a chance to turn things round, but a poor start saw an eventual move towards a contract termination by mutual consent. Some questioned the appointment of Gary Rowett as his replacement, but so far it’s been a resounding success.

It was never going to be a complete turnaround in footballing style but Rowett is using his resources to the fullest extent while modernising things on the pitch, and the fit between manager and club seems almost perfect.

Transfermarkt lists Millwall’s squad value as the fourth lowest in the division, and as the club works admirably in the community to recover from past reputations, the Den is seeing a late play-off push on-field, to match their boardroom’s impressing showing off it.


8th, Crewe

1st in League Two, 5 Power Ranking appearances

©Getty / MI News

Currently top of League Two, the challenge is far from over for Crewe, who are joint on points with Swindon with a game more played.

Still, there’s three places up for grabs in the fourth tier and Crewe have shown more than enough character to get promoted, having won more games after going behind than any team in England, whilst netting more goals than any side in an extraordinarily high scoring division.

And it’s not just the fun factor that’s making Crewe an exciting proposition, one of England’s youngest and most homegrown sides are getting big performances out of academy graduates Perry Ng, Harry Pickering, Charlie Kirk, Callum Ainley, Tom Lowery and Owen Dale.

To say the future is bright would be an understatement, and League Two is certainly a marathon, but if the show can go on there’s no reason why we can’t see Crewe claim promotion, and make a huge dent in the third tier.


7th, Wycombe

8th in League One, 6 Power Ranking appearances

©Getty / Andrew Vaughan - CameraSport

The days of Wycombe gapping the rest of League One before Christmas seem distant, but even since dropping down to eighth place after recent struggles, it’s been one hell of a sophomore year in the third division for Gareth Ainsworth’s side.

One of the longest serving coaches in England was nearly taken away by Sunderland as his side got off to a rapid start, but his players remained steadfast as they gradually moved to the top of the table.

Now sitting outside the play-offs, Wycombe are still just three points from second place, and for a team that only entered the league last season, it shows just how bright things are under Ainsworth, aided by some of the EFL’s canniest operators in his playing staff.


6th, Leeds

1st in the Championship, 8 Power Ranking appearance

©Getty / Alex Dodd - CameraSport

There was a time, in early February, where Leeds’ 12 point cushion in the automatic promotion spots was reduced to just goal difference, and their season was at crisis point. Now though, they lead the league with a six point gap to third placed Fulham, and if they get the chance to beat the Cottagers at home in two matchdays time, that should be an already very likely promotion all but confirmed.

Although it’s not just this season for Leeds, a usually nomadic Marcelo Bielsa looks to have fallen in love with the fan base and the city, and the underlying numbers show that their match domination should be more than enough for promotion, if not this season they’ll surely not be as unlucky next, and secure a top flight return sooner rather than later.

But that may be academic, as even if this season is cancelled, they look likely to take part in a 22 or 24 team Premier League next season, and with one of the best coaches the second tier has seen, anything is possible.



5th, Leicester

3rd in the Premier League, 10 Power Ranking appearances

©Getty / James Williamson - AMA

A victim of recency bias as Leicester have been wildly inconsistent since the New Year, but this season may be as important as their 2016 title win, as they’ve broken the Premier League’s top six monotony and may be well on their way to establishing themselves as a regular Champions League side.

Their superb analytical scouting that brought in the likes of Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kanté has worked wonders again with Çağlar Söyüncü and Wilfred Ndidi, while they backed up the players by going bold to bring in one of the world’s brightest young tactical minds in Brendan Rodgers, even though public opinion was massively stacked against him.

Despite a drop-off since Liverpool and Manchester City took turns to knock the Foxes out of the title race over Christmas, Leicester have hardly looked out of place in the top three, and although injury to Ndidi and a drop in form from Jamie Vardy has hit hard, there’s a real chance we look back on 2019/20 as the season Leicester became one of the Premier League’s dominant European forces.


4th, Brentford

4th in the Championship, 4 Power Ranking appearances

©Getty / James Chance

The pathway to the dream scenario of starting next season in the Premier League in the brand-spanking new Brentford Community Stadium is looking rocky, with season cancelation threats and also a near certain maneuver through the play-offs, but there’s still a good chance, while every single aspect of the club points to this being a top flight-ready side.

The quality of Europe wide scouting not only outstrips any second tier side in Europe, but also many in the Premier League, while smart decisions are being made everywhere in the boardroom it’s a near certainty the move from Griffin Park will be backed up by first division football sooner rather than later.

This season though, things have clicked on the pitch with a frightening front line of Ollie Watkins, Said Benrahma and Bryan Mbeumo backed up by some extraordinary quality.

Some doubts remain over manager Thomas Frank, and after losing a golden opportunity to jump into the top two, recent form has been poor, but the Bees are still joint top scorers in the division, and certainly one of the most exciting sides to watch. 

The only fear is that many of their Premier League ready players might jump ship if they don’t make it there with Brentford this season, but then the recruitment has been so good it might not even be a worry. But there’s still games against the two sides above them, and the play-off picture isn’t the strongest ever, keeping the 2020 dream alive, for now.



3rd, Oxford 

3rd in the Championship, 12 Power Ranking appearances

©Getty / Jordan Mansfield

Only Liverpool have made more appearances in our Power Rankings this season than Oxford’s 12, and it’s for good reason too, as one of the EFL’s best stories have been fantastic entertainment.

A season that flirted with the relegation zone came to life with a 4-0 League Cup win over West Ham, and it’s hardly calmed down since, aside from a difficult winter that saw a drop-off in form and two key players leave.

What followed were 10 games in the League and FA Cup, requiring Manchester City and 210 minutes of Newcastle to see off Karl Robinson’s side.

An 11 game League One unbeaten streak threw the Us right into the play-off picture, and now, with an impressive five game winning run after losing key men Tarique Fosu and Shandon Baptiste, Oxford have been rewarded for their hard work with third place in the division.

There’s little doubt other big sides will come for more of their young attacking outfit, but with Karl Robinson at the helm, the future certainly seems bright.


2nd, Liverpool

1st in the Premier League, 23 Power Ranking appearances

©Getty / Adam Davy

Recency bias has hampered what has been a record breaking season for Liverpool, with FA Cup and Champions League exits being made even more depressing by the prospect of the season’s cancelation due to the coronavirus.

A record point and win total at this stage of the season has seen Liverpool just two victories from their first league title in 30 years, and even with recent cup exits, the Holy Grail remains agonisingly close for Liverpool, with the possibility of 19th crown being cancelled still unlikely.

Jurgen Klopp has signed a three year contract extension, while their squad of world class talent remains only just into their peak years, with plenty more still to go.

On top of that Trent Alexander-Arnold has established himself as one of the best young players in world football, and best playmakers in the game (all from right back) while their youth sides have shown in the domestic cups that there’s plenty more to come, on top of UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup wins.

Klopp took a faltering giant and turned them into a top five side in world football, and despite an unlucky loss to Atletico Madrid last week, they look like sticking around for a long time to come.


1st, Sheffield United

7th in the Premier League, 3 Power Ranking appearances

©Getty / Michael Regan

It’s easy to forget the journey Sheffield United have been on with Chris Wilder as they’ve gone from League One to the Premier League, and now made top flight football look easy.

The ease in which they’ve adapted maybe takes away from the fact this is barely a Premier League side, with comparatively little investment in the summer. Yet the January signing of the sort-after Sander Berge was one of the biggest days in the clubs history, as it confirmed their top-half stay in the Premier League was far from a fluke.

One of the favourites for relegation to begin the campaign, no team in Premier League history had conceded less goals at this point.

Wilder and his squad, who couldn’t be further from household names for European watchers, are likely to be on their way to the continent next season and are winning fans all over. Not only does the manager’s relentless language sound good, it’s making sure his side don’t slip in their pursuit of a stunning campaign, when many would look for excuses.

Wilder as a local lad leading his side to extraordinary heights is one of the best stories in football this season, and shows no signs of stopping.


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