The 2022/23 English Football League (EFL) season looks like another dramatic year for English football. There are many twists and turns lurking around the corner, as we head into the home straight of the campaign.
However, there are several clubs that would already consider this season a success gave their relative form over the opening two-thirds of the calendar. Below, we celebrate four of the biggest EFL success stories so far this year.
Port Vale clinched promotion back to the third tier of English football through the playoffs last season. The Valiants’ Wembley win over Mansfield Town was the springboard to recovery for the Burslem-based club. Despite being in a league full of iconic clubs like Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday, and Derby County, Vale
Vale is in with a great chance of securing a top-half finish in their first season back in England’s third tier. Boss, Darrell Clarke, has adapted seamlessly to life in League One. So much so that he’s now one of the club’s best managers according to win percentages, with only Tom Morgan (46.3%) picking up a better win percentage during his time at Vale Park.
East London side Leyton Orient could not be in a much stronger position with less than a quarter of the League Two season remaining. As of March 2, Orient are 15 points clear of fourth-placed Northampton Town, with automatic promotion to League One now looking like a certainty.
Orient have achieved this in style, underpinned by a rock-solid defense, which has only shipped 21 goals in 34 games to date. The O’s have been indebted to loanee midfielder, Idris El Mizouni, with the Ipswich youngster displaying a maturity beyond his years in the middle of the park.
Plymouth Argyle has successfully shrugged off the disappointment of missing out on the League One top six in 2021/22 by pushing harder still for promotion in 2022/23. Under Steven Schumacher, the Pilgrims have been in red-hot form, particularly at home where they’ve tasted defeat just once.
The challenge for Argyle and Schumacher is to prevent last season’s tail-off from happening again. The likes of Ipswich and Barnsley are breathing heavily down their necks for that coveted second automatic promotion spot. The club has had misfortune with injuries in recent weeks, with star goalkeeper Michael Cooper ruled out for the rest of the season. Cooper will be looking to use all available injury recovery techniques to ensure his return for the start of the 2023/24 campaign.
Luton Town has an annual budget that pales into insignificance alongside some of the Championship’s biggest clubs. A decade ago, the Hatters were plying their trade in the National League and now they are on course to compete for a second successive playoff finish in England’s second tier.
Luton’s impressive season to date has been achieved despite the loss of long-time manager Nathan Jones to Premier League strugglers Southampton. It’s all the more bizarre given that Jones’ ill-fated reign with the Saints is already over. Nevertheless, Rob Edwards, former boss of bitter rivals Watford, has taken the reigns with aplomb.