While the Premier League grabs the lion’s share of the football headlines in England, there are more than three times as many professional clubs below the top flight with stories of their own to tell.
To celebrate those working away from the limelight, we’ve ranked the top 20 managers based on their achievements with EFL clubs.
Every manager with at least a season’s worth of EFL matches under their belt, including at least one in the last five seasons, and not currently in charge of a Premier League club has been considered.
Points have been awarded for promotions, title wins and cup runs while each relegation where the manager was in charge for at least half of the season incurs a penalty.
Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock is the standout performer by some distance, having won promotion seven times as an EFL manager: the first two of which were in back-to-back seasons with Notts County.
Warnock’s lengthy managerial career, which stretches back to the mid-1980s, has also seen him reach two major semi-finals and a further three quarter-finals with a team from outside the top flight.
The closest challenger still actively managing in the EFL is Portsmouth’s Kenny Jackett, who has secured three promotions in his career to date.
Jackett is also one of only three men to have won the EFL Trophy twice and was denied the chance to complete his hat-trick after reaching the 2020 final before it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While nobody can match Warnock’s seven promotions, three other managers in our top 20 have taken a team up four times.
Simon Grayson stands out as he has managed this feat with four different clubs: Blackpool, Leeds, Huddersfield and Preston, although he has never finished at the top of the table.
The others are Nigel Adkins – twice each with Scunthorpe and Southampton – and Darren Ferguson, who has taken Peterborough up three times and Doncaster once.
Recently-departed Wigan boss Paul Cook deserves a mention for having secured three promotions with different clubs, all as champions of their division.
Cook, unfortunately, now has a relegation on his CV after the Latics dropped into League One this summer, although in harsh circumstances given their points deduction.
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