So tweeted Heraclitus about 2,500 years ago. But your modern day Madrileño philosopher here would like to add: But Every Change Needs a Constant. Read on, and please bear with me, to be illuminated.
The system for calculating world golf rankings is as convoluted as it gets. But the only knowledge of it needed for this article is that it is a golfer’s performance over the previous two years that is under the spotlight. This means that as the pros are gleefully banking ranking points for their 2013 exploits, they will also be ‘losing’ points as 2011 tournaments reach their expiry date. This allows the calculation of a somewhat arbitrary, but nonetheless interesting, figure: the differential between points lost and points gained throughout a season. So far in 2013, Tiger Woods’ lost/gained differential is plus 225.98. Rory McIlroy’s is minus 235.52 – by far the worst of any player on the PGA Tour.
McIlroy is of course, in effect, paying the price for stellar performances from late 2010 and early 2011, a time in which Tiger was busy hacking around his local pitch and putt, trying to rebuild his career. Nevertheless, the statistics provide stark evidence of how much McIlroy’s game has deteriorated this season. A range of theories have been put forward to explain the Holywood man’s helter-skelter pursuit of Luke Donald and Lee Westwood down the official ranking list, but perhaps the one that carries the most weight is the accusation that he erred when changing the manufacturer of both his ball and his clubs at the same time. Without maintaining one constant in the formula, it has become more difficult to pinpoint where things are going wrong. Thus, the transition period as he gets comfortable with his new gear has lasted much longer than anyone expected.
Judging by Manchester United’s performance in this season’s transfer window, it appears they have made the exact same mistake. In Cesc Fábregas, Luka Modric, Sami Khedira, Ander Herrera, and (believe it or not) Fábio Coentrão, Bale is going to come face to face with at least five players this season that David Moyes and Ed Woodward (who looks like Ian Hislop and Jeffrey Archer’s love child) had hoped would be plying their trade in the Premier League. Thiago Alcântara, Daniele de Rossi, Wesley Sneijder and Leighton Baines also slipped through the Red Devil’s net.
Now I don’t know the ins and outs of 21st century football transfers, but I presume a manager and a vice chairman must play a more important role than most. There’s a bit more to it these days than brown envelopes at motorway service stations – although it appears nobody informed Joe Kinnear. United never seemed to have much trouble getting their man in the past, so what has changed since last season? Well, two things actually: the manager and the vice chairman. And therein lies the problem. Much like their famous fan, Rory McIlroy, United are transitioning without a constant and in terms of transfer policy at least, it looks like it is also going to take them a lot longer to find their feet than they first suspected.