Paynes Player Ratings The 2023-24 Season Part One

By Luke Payne, Feature Writer

The time has finally come to write the player rankings end of season article.

Those of you that read the end of season ratings last year may remember that there was no statistical element to the ranking, it was purely the order I placed the players in.

However, this time I’m doing it differently… I’ve recorded every single player rating I’ve given this season and found the average score for each player using all of the fixtures they played. This includes all of the cup competitions: FA Cup, EFL Cup, EFL Trophy, and of course the dreaded play-offs.

On this occasion I’ve decided to only use the ratings written by myself as it’s difficult for me to comment on games that I didn’t attend but if people would like to see the numbers for the cover versions of the ratings then that’s something I’ll consider doing for next season. This is also the perfect time to once again thank Jonathan Harries and Chris Turner for their brilliant cover versions over the course of the season. They both did a fantastic job, so be sure to show them some love in the comments.

Now it’s time to crunch the numbers! I wrote the ratings for 41 games this season, including cup games. Obviously, not every player was on the pitch for every game, and some players featured very little. For a player to be included in the main list, they must have played more than five games that I covered the ratings for. The following first team players didn’t meet this criteria, though I’ve provided their average ratings anyway: Ash Hunter (6.60), Darragh Burns (6), Nathan Harness (5.50), Nathan Holland (4.75) and Anthony Stewart (4.33).

There were also plenty of academy players that featured in cup competitions but didn’t play often enough to meet the criteria, these are: Brooklyn Ilunga (6.67), Pheonix Scholtz (6.38), Keon Lewis-Burgess (6.00), Joel Anker (5.50), Callum Tripp (5.50), Charlie Waller (5.50), Albert Wood (5.00), Charlie Stirland (5.00) and Rian Silver (4.50).

Team Statistics – Before getting into the main list, I will also provide you with some additional information that may be of interest. The average team performance rating was 6.06, an incredibly average number given that each player starts on a rating of six in the first place! In addition to giving each player a rating every game, I also awarded the top performing player the title of Top Don. Over the course of the 41 games, I named 19 different Top Dons, only two of which don’t feature in the main list. The two exceptions were Anthony Stewart for his performance away at Walsall, where he scored a seven, and Brooklyn Ilunga for his 8.5 rated performance at home to Chelsea U21’s in the EFL Trophy. Now, without further ado, it’s time for Payne’s Player Rankings 2023/24!

26 – Filip Marschall – 5.43: I’m kicking things off with a very predictable one. Despite being quite protective of Filip Marschall due to the treatment he was given constantly by the fans, it’s hard to get away from his poor performances. Sadly, Marschall never found his footing at Dons with even his top performances, only earning ratings of 6.5. It’s worth noting that the young keeper only just qualifies for the list, averaging a meagre 5.43 across seven games.

25 – Mo Eisa – 5.64: Mo Eisa has been a shell of the player Dons fans once knew. He started the season with a bang, earning a rating of 9 for his performance away at Wrexham. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there for the striker. As he started to miss more and more chances, his confidence levels just kept dropping, and he was eventually dropped and replaced. He spent the second half of the season as Exeter’s back-up striker in League One but now finds himself without a club. Across his 18 games, he failed to impress, finishing the season with an average of 5.64 and no Top Dons.

24 – Jack Tucker – 5.75: There is no greater mystery than what goes on in the mind of Jack Tucker. His ratings are all over the place. Over 16 games, he was never awarded Top Don, but he achieved a rating of 8 four times, as well as earning a score of 9 for his performance at home to Swindon. However, he wouldn’t be this low on the list if there wasn’t a downside. Tucker comes across as a player who struggles with confidence, and if his head drops, he doesn’t seem to have a way to bring himself back. This is shown by his performances in some of Dons’ poorest performances of the season, earning 3.5’s in the home defeat to Mansfield as well as the away play-off game against Crawley. Tucker finished the season with his lowest scoring performance, a pathetic 2 when Crawley came to Stadium MK for the second leg of the play-offs.

23 – Stephen Wearne – 5.76: Stephen Wearne being this low on the list came as a great surprise to me initially, but having given it some thought, it actually does make sense as he can be very inconsistent. He managed an average of 5.76 across 17 games. Wearne had some fantastic performances when he first joined the club, even achieving a 9 for his two assists at home to Newport. The attacking midfielder also impressed in home games against Accrington and Crewe, scoring an 8 in each. He is the lowest ranked player to have achieved the title of Top Don, though this isn’t actually that big of an achievement given that it was the 4-0 loss away at Bradford where a rating of 7 was enough to make Wearne stand out amongst the rest. Like Tucker, Wearne finished the season with his worst performances, earning a rating of 3 in the first play-off game followed by an embarrassing 1.5 in the return leg, the joint lowest rating of any player across the entire season.

22 – Jonathan Leko – 5.79: Similarly to Eisa, Jonathan Leko’s opening game was the highest rating of his season, a 9.5 away at Wrexham. After that, he struggled to find any consistent level of form, and his performances left a lot to be desired in terms of both work rate and quality in the final third. Leko spent a couple of games operating as a wingback, but this show of versatility wasn’t enough to stop him from being loaned out to Burton in January. Unfortunately, an injury just minutes into his Burton debut ended his season. In his 19 games, he was never Top Don and could only manage an average rating of 5.79.

21 – Dean Lewington – 5.85: It’s a sad sight to see the skipper this low on the list but with injuries plaguing his season and his fitness not being at the level it once was, Dean Lewington struggled to make a lasting impact on the team. He always adds a certain level of leadership on the pitch, but it comes at the cost of losing a more mobile defender. With the wingbacks being encouraged to push high, Lewington was often exposed down the left as shown by his lowest ratings against Doncaster away and Mansfield at home, scoring 3.5 and 3, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, he was given Top Don for his 8 rated performance in the 1-0 home victory over Colchester. A lot of Lewington’s ratings were just below average, and it’s hard to see him improving on this as he now enters his forties. His average rating of 5.85 came across just 17 games where he would’ve likely appeared in double as many in previous seasons.

Part Two, out tomorrow, features players rated 20 to 11

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Paynes Player Ratings The 2023/24 Season Part Two