We bring you the first part of our massive guide to the transfer window with Arsenal, Aston Villa, Burnley, Chelsea and Crystal Palace. Who needs what, why and who?
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...
What do the papers, the TV, and fans of other clubs think about your team? In this series, John Nicholson and Alan Tyers look at the stereotypes, coverage and media agendas for each team in the Premier League. This week, it's the turn of newly-promoted Crystal Palace...
Ex-player pundit presence
One of the best currently on TV is ex-Palace man Iain Dowie. Davros is not just a chap with an encyclopaedic knowledge of football, he gives the impression of having no life other than football, a man for whom football is the very essence of existence. His astonished, adrenalin-pumped eyes as he reports on the most inconsequential happenings in games so dull that even the most robust would want to self-harm are remarkable. We always feel his brain is working at twice the speed he can speak, hence the manic staring. Other less notables include Mark Bright and Ian Wright (coupled together early in their media career because...well, their names are quite similar, innit?) Wright has turned into a novelty act and Bright finally seems to have moved on from the BBC after a long stint of insubstantiality. Sky have the always-eager puppy that is John Salako, while Chris Coleman is an occasional, disturbingly handsome presence.
Being from Lahndahn ensures a fair few well-knowns on their ass. Palace notables include the excellent misogynist-baiting comedian Jo Brand, and 1970s light ents legend Roger De Courcey (Nookie Bear's allegiances are as yet undeclared). Also DJ David Jensen and Official Football Comedian Kevin Day have both done more than their bit for the club during its toughest times. Actually, Palace seem to be over-represented in the comedian community: Eddie Izzard, Ronnie Corbett, Harry Enfield, Sean Hughes, Roy Hudd and Neil Morrissey are among the comics claimed by the Eagles.
Back page leaders?
Our personal anecdotal experience has been that quite a lot of football journos support Palace, which may have in a small way contributed to the sympathetic coverage the club had during administration. The flash, quotable and vaguely unsettling Simon Jordan was good value, not least for his triggering of a succession of managers. And the whole soap opera of ownership between him, Ron Noades, Jerry Lim, Mark Goldberg et al gave sports news correspondents plenty to work with. You get the sense that another financial story might never be too far away.
Gaffer's media skills
The cheeky chappie/people's philosopher shtick of Ian Holloway, whose self-effacing yet oddly megalomaniacal West Country ramblings are firmly in the "love it or hate it" category. Holloway relentlessly plays the underdog as though he's managing a non-League outfit rather than a club with millions of quid at their disposal. Lots of sofa time for him if he wants it.
Vox pop cliché fan
Hangdog expressions. South London accent makes them sound permanently on the verge of offering you out for a fight. Oi oi. Often solid working class fans, decent family club. A bit chippy because they're a small-ish club in a big city. Absolutely hate Brighton. Prone to romantic nostalgia about 1990 cup run.
Keyboard warrior ferocity
Like any newly promoted side, optimism is out of proportion with what can be achieved and thus predictions of relegation attract some ire. Most Palace fans are too phlegmatic and beaten down by endless financial and football mismanagement to get too excited, though. Not likely to threaten to rape you on Twitter because you reckon they might be in the dreaded drop zone come May. That said, this column was once cyber-stalked and vehemently, repeatedly abused by a deranged Palace fan for daring to opine that the Eric Cantona kung-fu kick was an amusing incident, so who knows? We can only assume that the young man in question was in a tiny minority of seething, lonesome inadequacy and not representative of what seems to be a decent bunch on the whole.
Outsiders at the London party. Keepers of the flame of the working class game in the capital. A Proper Club; welcoming to kids.
I thought they went bust? Is that bloke with the terrible hair and the ludicrous tan still involved? Actually, who owns them this week? Oh god, he's not their manager is he? Selhurst Park is a really hard place to get to, and it's in a crap bit of London.
Archetypal news stories
"Holloway claims 'aliens stole my defence' as Palace ship six." "Palace put up for sale after financial mismanagement."
John Nicholson and Alan Tyers
Read Johnny's book, 'The Meat Fix' here
Alan's football and cricket books are all in one place here