Which is the top club in the land? Which teams are punching above their weight and which historic powerhouses languish in the lower divisions? The Ultimate League for 2017/18 has arrived…
The Ultimate League factors each club’s average league position over the last 50 years and includes every club that has featured in England’s top four tiers for at least 10 seasons during that period.
Liverpool remain England’s top club with a remarkable average position of 3.5 over the last half-a-century, while Arsenal narrowly stave off Manchester United for second spot.
Manchester United actually ended the season one place above their average third-place rank – as did fourth-ranked Tottenham and sixth-ranked Chelsea.
Perhaps surprisingly, Everton rank fifth – but Sam Allardyce’s men ended the Premier League campaign three positions lower in eighth.
Champions Manchester City rank seventh, while Aston Villa, Newcastle and West Ham complete the top 10, edging fellow top-flight sides Southampton (11th) and Leicester City (15th).
Eight lower-league clubs occupy the remaining positions between 11 and 20, including Leeds United, Ipswich Town, Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, West Brom, Derby County and Sunderland.
Of those, Sunderland have been the biggest underachievers, finishing bottom of the Championship this term – 24 places below their historic rank of 20th – and facing a second successive drop down the pyramid.
Coventry are by far England’s biggest underachievers, ending the season sixth in League Two – that is 52 places below their historic rank of 22nd, but they could still return to League One via the play-offs.
Other notable underachievers include York City (-42), Leyton Orient (-41), Stockport County (-41), Southport (-38), Tranmere Rovers (-33), Luton Town (-31), Swindon Town (-30) and Wrexham (-27).
In contrast, top-flight Bournemouth are England’s ultimate overachievers, punching 41 places above their historic rank of 53rd to shore up 12th spot in the Premier League.
Despite being relegated from the Premier League on the final day of the season, Swansea are England’s second-ranked overachievers (+32) and should be in League One, according to historic success.
Other notable overachievers include Brentford (+30), Burnley (+29), Huddersfield Town (+29), Scunthorpe (+27), Accrington (+25), Brighton (+23), Cardiff (+22) and Shrewsbury (+20).
Of the teams that have appeared in the top four tiers for 10 seasons or more since 1968 and have played in the non-league this term, Macclefield and Tranmere have achieved promotion to League Two next term.
Meanwhile, Torquay (-28), Wrexham, Southport, Leyton Orient, Stockport and York all remain outside the professional leagues, while Chesterfield and Barnet will start next season in the National League.
Teams that have featured in England’s top tiers in 10 or more seasons over the past 50 years but have since dissolved include Aldershot (pre-1992), Darlington (pre-2012), Halifax (pre-2008), Hereford United, Wimbledon, Newport County (pre-1989) and Scarborough.
Check out the table below to see where your club ranks and see whether they are underachieving or overachieving…
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