It's that time of the year again, when football fans all over the country start debating who have been the best, and worst, players of the Premier League season.
Well, other than listen to our manager harangue us for being 'too negative' about his failure to win anything for a fourth straight year.(Careful, Arsene, it's never a good idea to blame the innocent victims of your own failed strategy).
My own team of the year selection is based on both consistency and impact. I went for players who, in their own ways, had the most impressive and potent effect on their clubs.
Why go for someone like Edwin van der Sar when he has hardly had to make a save all season? Howard has been brilliant at Everton, breaking the club record for Premier League clean sheets in the 0-0 draw against Spurs last week, a record held by the great Neville Southall. Howard doesn't scream and shout at his team-mates, he just concentrates on doing his job.
Jagielka has been to David Moyes what Paul Burrell was to Diana - an absolute 'rock' (though without all the queenie tears and treachery, obviously). One of the most versatile defenders in Britain, he is equally at home at full-back or centre-back and I've had to stick him on the right to get him in my side. A ferociously determined, totally reliable player who has earned the trust of his colleagues, adoration of his fans and respect of his opponents.
Some of the best left-backs in the world are operating in the Premier League, including Gael Clichy and (though it pains me to admit it) Ashley Cole. But my choice has shone out from even this gifted group like a diamond in a gold bar. Patrice Evra is a lightning quick, totally committed, attacking defender who has nullified the risk from opposing strikers while constantly driving forward to set up Manchester United's forward play. A class act.
Nemanja Vidic and John Terry may be world class but I've gone for a player whose performances have been giant-like in every sense. Hangeland has been simply fantastic this season, a towering, 'thou shalt not pass' powerhouse. Fulham have been a revelation this year and Hangeland is one of the main reasons.
Most fans I know seem to think Vidic is a better player than Ferdinand but I don't agree. Rio has matured into the best centre-back in the world. I watched him during United's demolition of Arsenal at the Emirates in the Champions League semi-final and he was masterful from start to finish. He reminds me of Beckenbauer, unusually mobile and skilful for a big guy and with a rare calmness and vision. He has become a very good captain, too.
I know, I know. Frank Lampard's had the best season of his life, etc. But there's still something about him that doesn't quite rock my boat. No, the one who's caught my eye is the one Arsenal should have signed last summer, Xabi Alonso. Every great side needs a great, deep-lying playmaker who can hoover up the ball and drive it forward. Alonso has done for Liverpool what Claude Makelele used to do for Chelsea and Real Madrid. And he's done it in such a cultured, imperious way.
STEVEN GERRARD (captain)
If I had a blank chequebook, and could buy one player in the world to get Arsenal out of their mess, it would be Gerrard. He's got it all - pace, skill, passion, aggression, an awesome shot, leadership, guts and determination. When he plays, Liverpool play, it's as simple as that. If Gerrard had stayed fit all season I think they could have nicked the title.
He may be an annoying, diving, moaning, disloyal little weasel but he's also a fabulous player. He would walk into any team in the world and be their star. If I was Sir Alex, I'd be selling a few racehorses to keep him.
If there is one ray of sunshine amid the relentless downpour of misery and pain at Arsenal, then it's this little Russian guy. He may have played only half a season but for sheer impact he has been our most exciting signing since Dennis Bergkamp. He is a fast, tough, seriously skilful, lethal finisher.
Having ruled out Wayne Rooney
for disciplinary reasons, I've gone for one of the most under-rated finishers in the game. Anelka was always incredibly quick and deadly in front of goal. But he has grown up in the last few years and developed into a clever, hard-working, thoroughly professional striker.
The best striker in the business. Torres is a slippery eel, twisting and turning defenders inside out until they are left lying on the floor in abject humiliation (Mr Vidic anyone?). There is no weakness to his play and none of the usual mood problems you get with outrageously gifted forwards. Torres is just a very cheerful chappie who loves banging in goals.
Sir Alex has been brilliant and David Moyes, too. But Hodgson has taken Fulham from the brink of relegation to serious European challengers and done it with old-fashioned values - hard graft, intelligent transfer dealings, inspired training and calm, firm guidance.
Six months ago I was standing at the bar at midnight during Amanda Holden's splendidly debauched wedding celebrations when Jenson Button came over and said hello. He'd just heard that Honda were pulling out of F1, a decision that threatened to end his racing career. 'You must be absolutely gutted,' I suggested.
'Not really,' he said, laughing. 'Something will turn up!' And, boy, did something turn up. Jenson's a great guy who stayed loyal to his team when many drivers would have walked. He deserves every second of the stunning success he's now having.