In the build-up to Manchester United’s trip to Galatasaray in the Champions League last week, Fatih Terim, the veteran coach of the Turkish champions, delivered what must surely be one of the quotes of the season.
“Statistics,” he suggested, “Are just like mini-skirts. They don’t reveal everything.”
Terim chose this inspired analogy to explain away his side’s poor recent record at home in Europe, but in truth, he could just as easily have been referring to United’s campaign to date.
Any regular reader of this site will be well aware that the Red Devils have developed an extraordinary penchant for conceding the first goal, suffering this fate a whopping 13 times in their past 20 games.
And yet with the end of November fast approaching, United sit proudly atop the Premier League table and are through to the last 16 of the Champions League as group winners.
As the esteemed Mr Terim would no doubt opine, that is one welcome-to-hell of a mini-skirt, baby.
But just as every cloud has a silver lining, every mini-skirt has its own non-visible panty lining (quiet at the back!) and in this case, it is United’s sneaky record of winning on nine of those 13 occasions.
The bouncebackability (that word never really caught on, did it?) instilled by Sir Alex Ferguson in his troops was on show yet again last weekend as even then-managerless basement boys QPR took the lead against United before falling to a 3-1 defeat.
So what will happen when West Ham United head to Old Trafford on Wednesday evening?
First and foremost, we must hope mentions of mini-skirts will be at a minimum in the visiting dressing room, otherwise Andy Carroll might start getting a bit punchy (allegedly).
Perhaps the former Newcastle man needs to be really angry to deliver on the pitch, judging by the way he has sulked and moped his way through his stop-start opening few months with the Hammers, despite the presence of best buddy ‘Wor Kev’.
Maybe every time a cross comes in, he needs a red mini-skirt placed tantalisingly in front of him by a team-mate, matador-style (where’s Diego Tristan when you need him?), so he can then attack it with unbridled ferocity, ideally with his famously lethal head.
You can have that last one for free, Big Sam. You’re welcome.
Now, where were we again? Ah yes, deciding whether it is worth taking a chance on United conceding the opening goal of the game once more.
Well, the good news is that the bwin bookies still appear to be craning their necks to see up this particular mini-skirt.
Their price of 16/5 on United shipping the first goal effectively means that if the game was played 21 times, West Ham would, theoretically at least, only break the deadlock on five occasions.
That, of course, bears no relation to the statistic mentioned earlier about United – 13 first-goal concessions in 20 games – and I would not blame anyone for having a sizeable punt on this quote.
Similarly, if the argument is extended to incorporate another win for the Red Devils after falling behind, the lead-lose selection in the run of play market looks superb at an even longer 13/2.
And yet despite the groundswell of evidence in favour of these two punts, my main bet will be something rather more mundane – namely United to win 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 at the slightly less appealing but equally viable 14/5.
The Red Devils have won five of their six home matches in the Premier League to date and their remarkable attacking threat has seen them notch 18 times in those games.
But they have also conceded nine goals along the way and a West Ham side who have scored in each of their last four away games should have enough quality to notch once at Old Trafford, even if I cannot guarantee it will be the opener.
And while the Hammers may be good enough to grab a goal, the manner of Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at Tottenham – not to mention their 11/1 price to win – suggests that they won’t be good enough to grab a result (United are 11/50 favourites and the draw is a 5/1 chance).
Punters registering with bwin can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on United to win 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 would return a cool £76 if Ferguson’s men do indeed triumph by one of these three scorelines.
Of course, no article in which the binding theme is mini-skirts would be complete without mentioning Wayne Rooney (or should that be granny pants?) and I’m not going to disappoint you on that front, dear reader.
A cursory glance at recent meetings between United and West Ham show that the England striker has plundered six goals in his last three appearances against the Hammers.
With that kind of record, punters should also be giving serious consideration to backing him to score at any time at 7/10, while he is also available at 7/2 to notch first (the same to score last) and 3/1 to fire two or more goals.
And if you do make a packet from any of the tips you’ve read here, a donation in the post to Bwinbetting Towers would be appreciated – then we can buy one of those smartphones with cameras that help you see up… er, actually, forget it.