Southampton top the list but perhaps it's Aston Villa who should get most credit. Their defence is the reason why they are sitting comfortably in mid-table...
Garrulous, uncompromising, always fighting his corner, but not without charm if the mood takes him. Sam Allardyce is the Premier League's classic Proper Football Man...
1) The player says a poignant farewell to the crowd at his last home game of the season, involving lots of thumbs-ups and staring forlornly into the crowd as if to say, "we'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when". This is the highlight of a truly mediocre season for him. The player does well to conceal the fact that he is bored shitless. The more po-faced fans provide a standing ovation, chant his name, unfurl his national flag and cry into their chip butties.
2) The player goes on holiday where he tweets poolside directly to his several hundred thousand followers: 'Guys, don't believe anything until you've heard it from me.' He then proceeds to give numerous interviews to the local press about how it rains too much in England and he misses his dogs who couldn't get past quarantine at Heathrow.
3) The club issues a statement saying that the quotes given to the press were 'taken out of context' and the player is perfectly happy. Next year is going to be a big one for the club and he will be an integral part of it.
4) The tabloid press show pictures of a fake tudor mansion with a 'For Sale' sign outside. An exclusive interview with the real estate agent looking after the sale says the furniture has already been moved to Spain/Italy/France/Argentina. A smaller photograph inset on the tudor mansion photo shows the footballer on the phone, presumably organising the sale.
5) The BBC have the story. Things are really hotting up now as the transfer rumour appears on the BBC website. They broke the news about Trevor Francis moving to Nottingham Forest in early 2005, so there's a clear precedent for them breaking these stories.
6) Each one of the teammates on the players' former team provide their analysis of the situation, careful to prefix their statements with "I'm not saying he's unhappy but..." and "I'd personally never dream of unsettling another team's player but..."
7) The mayor of the city where the player was born accuses the player's current club of kidnapping the player, failing to take into account that kidnappers generally aren't paid £100,000 a week with bonuses after signing a contact to be kidnapped.
8) Desperately seeking some reassurance from the player, fans wait for him to provide them with something to cling to. The player tweets about how great the Tour de France is this year and how he loves Haribo Magic Mix.
9) The player gives further interviews to foreign press, telling them that a) he'll never set foot in England again, b) he's signed a pre-contract with the foreign club, c) his great-grandfather sold his wife's wedding ring to fund the purchase of the club's ground back in 1911, and d) he's got a hamstring injury so can't play in the pre-season friendlies, anyway.
10) The player's current club say that they're tired of refuting this rumour. By talking about it, they just fuel it. They'd rather talk about the recent draw against some plucky amateurs in Kuala Lumpur/Singapore/Kolkatta. Anyway, the player has a contract and is happy at the club. And he's injured, by the way.
11) The player is photographed arriving in Heathrow looking glum. He only has a small bag, which suggests that it will be a brief stay. Tabloids report that he is staying at a hotel 'near the airport' for added effect.
12) Directors of the foreign club arrive in the UK to tender a derisory offer for the player. This invariably includes an above-average youth team player who's been tearing up the Spanish Third Division for half a season now. This is offered as the £10m makeweight in the deal. Arsene Wenger once bid for the player, which makes everyone think he's the new Dennis Bergkamp, when in fact he's the new Francis Jeffers.
13) The player isn't on the player's pre-season photoshoot: conclusive evidence that a deal has been tied up for the player to leave.
14) A deal is done! It appears the player has signed terms on a contract with the new team.
15) A deal isn't done. Repeat steps 1-13 in 12 months time.