Lies, damned lies and statistics
Footballers are a funny lot. They walk the walk, talk the talk and generally ooze confidence, yet can instantly be reduced to quivering wrecks should they forget to touch the top of the tunnel on their way out or misplace their lucky undercrackers.
Fans are just as bad. If I find a penny on the street, it goes into my back pocket and stays there until my next trip to Loftus Road, where I am convinced it will be the difference between three points and none. If we lose, it is dismissed as a bad penny.
Of course it's all rubbish but then, according to a new book, so are the things we take for granted, like an in-form striker or your team being more likely to concede a goal just after you've scored one.
The book, 'Myths and facts about Football', aims to dispel these and other long-held beliefs about the beautiful game, with the aid of mathematical and psychological research into hundreds of matches.
But it's not all about killing the romance. The same process is also used to provide us with strange truths we might previously have dismissed as claptrap.
For instance, did you know that players who celebrate goals with their team-mates rather than running away from them will see their side achieve better results? Or that if a keeper stands still when facing a penalty, he is more likely to save it than if he dives? (Even if he doesn't believe it himself).
Professor Peter Ayton, a psychologist at London's City University, and one of the book's contributors, insists it could prove a useful tool for players, managers and TV pundits alike.
He told BBC Sport: "I'm not saying we've got all the answers but this is the way to find out what the real truth is. Pundits and commentators all have opinions but if you can back something up with data, then why not use it?"
So let's take a look at the evidence. In the book it states that a striker has more chance of scoring from the spot if he smacks it in the middle of the goal.
Prof Ayton said: "A study by two Israeli academics of 286 penalties found balls go down the centre much more than the goalkeepers' behaviour would indicate, leaving the middle of the goal vulnerable.
"Despite the findings, goalkeepers said they were still more likely to dive because if they stood in the middle it would look as if they weren't having a go, risking the wrath of fans and team-mates alike."
And what about the commonly-held belief that strikers have purple patches - the more games they score in the better chance they have of finding the net in the next match?
Prof Ayton recalled a study of mid 80s basketball in the USA which formed the basis of his investigation. "Every newspaper report would refer to the 'Hot Hand' at some point - the theory that within a game players get periods where things go for them and they score from practically every shot they go for.
"The study found this was just chance, as random as tossing a coin. We called ours the 'Hot Foot Fallacy' and after analysing the top 12 scorers in the Premiership between 1994-96 (including Alan Shearer and Eric Cantona) we found there was no evidence strikers were more likely to score if they had scored in their previous game."
But doesn't a run of goals breed confidence? And surely your team-mates are more likely to set you up if they know you've been banging them in?
"Both of these theories are very plausible," Professor Ayton conceded. "But Jimmy Greaves used to say he felt relief when he'd scored a goal and you could hypothesise that strikers may become complacent having scored because the pressure has been taken off them."
Other findings in the book show that in two-legged cup ties, the side playing the second leg at home have a clear advantage, but in a penalty shoot-out the order has no bearing on the outcome.
Another myth that can be exploded is the notion that teams run a greater risk of conceding a goal after scoring. Prof Ayton said: "We analysed hundreds of games where the final score was 1-1 and found this wasn't the case.
"We also found less than 10% of teams who are 1-0 down at half-time go on to win. Pundits will sit there in the interval telling us there's all to play for and it could go either way, but they could tell the viewers a lot more if they crunched up the data.
"But then we're just a bunch of nerdy academics and Arsene Wenger is not going to call me up to ask me if I can pass on any tips."
And what of the good professor himself? A quick look at his website reveals he plays for a team called the Psychology All-Stars. Oh to be a fly on the wall in that dressing room.
"Yes, I hadn't thought of it like that!" he said. "I've always considered us to be just another out-of-shape, overweight Sunday team, but come to think of it the post-match analysis is very extensive and often goes late on into the night."
And does this psychological approach work?
"We have won cup tournaments but now, due to the decline in our ability to organise ourselves, no longer participate in a regular league. But we are about to go on a tour of Spain where we hope to prove to the Europeans the value of a scientific approach to the game."
And if that doesn't work, they could always try chucking tea cups.