Why does every kit need a story? Must each shirt be a tribute to something? We’ve sifted through the PR guff released by the Big Six and their kit suppliers to bring you the worst culprits…
Their kit is one thing – perhaps the only thing – Arsenal are currently getting right. The three stripes are back and the home shirt deserves to be won by better players than Shkodran Mustafi.
Even the unveil was done right. The official video was ‘leaked’ a few days before the big launch and it certainly built a buzz, even if they eventually fell foul of the PR fluff.
‘Today’s kit launches alongside the film, ‘This is home’ which sends a strong message about belonging,’ insist Arsenal. ‘The film shows how our players from around the world feel so at home at Arsenal and in London, they’ve become part of the fabric of the club and the community, adopting the accents of north London and real Arsenal fans.’
Their French captain feels so at home in London that he refuses to leave.
The away kit represented an open goal for Adidas that they’ve scuffed over the line with a half-hearted nod to the ‘bruised banana’ outfit worn in the early ’90s.
Leaked photo of Arsenal’s away kit, worn by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Arsenal’s home kit, worn by Alexandre Lacazette, for the upcoming season, manufactured by Adidas. 👀 #afc pic.twitter.com/O7uUJzdUfQ
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) May 22, 2019
No sign yet of the Spurs home kit for the forthcoming season, though there are three things we are relatively certain of: It’ll be white; it will be a template design like any other; it can’t be as bad as last season’s.
4) Manchester City
City broke out from Nike’s template stable to commence a ten-year arrangement with Puma, who have at least offered the illusion of effort.
The PR department have certainly been hard at it: ‘The home kit draws inspiration from Manchester’s industrial heritage, celebrating the true grit, fight, and character that emerged from the cotton mills of Manchester.’
“The woven jacquard wave pattern, running through the shirt, is a visual representation of the looms which were integral to the industrial revolution in Manchester.’
That bullsh*t would be easier to digest were it not a feature on Puma’s other templated jerseys. Like Valencia’s away shirt. Or Oxford United’s…
— Pro Soccer Kits ⚽️ (@prosoccerkits) June 3, 2019
Puma using same template for Valencia's home and Goalkeeper as City and Dortmunds away… Rubbish …. Nike 2.0 get rid 😂🙄 https://t.co/G9K9H2hm5G
— Joe (@JoeWarrenB) July 5, 2019
At least the away shirt is a slightly more bespoke effort. City explain:’ It celebrates the city’s “Madchester” years, a period of extraordinary cultural activity in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The kit is directly inspired by former nightclub, The Haçienda, which was once an epicentre for emerging music, bands, DJs, and artists.
‘Using black colour as a base, this Away kit features yellow stripes on the left shoulder: a reference to The Haçienda’s iconic graphic identity. Additional peach and City blue pops create a colourful representation of this legendary cultural icon that was the heartbeat of the city.’
All that claptrap aside, it’s a decent effort.
Manchester City’s Haçienda inspired away kit pic.twitter.com/KmCKBpJKc7
— Bands FC (@_Bands_FC) June 30, 2019
However, their third shirt – released next week – is a f*cking disaster of a garment. Just you wait…
The Blues unveiled, shockingly, a blue home shirt – an outlandish design which the club have explained away: “Chelsea Football Club and Nike today unveil our new 2019/20 home kit, inspired by one thing: Stamford Bridge. The Blues have called the Bridge home since 1905, and just as it is woven into our history, it is woven into the fabric of our brand new kit. The concept comes to life through a classic Chelsea blue shirt, comprising imagery taken from our famous home.”
That imagery, though, looks like a raging Maurizio Sarri took some scissors to the old photos in his office and someone from Nike sifted through the fag ends in his bin. That or the designer looked at the bus seat on his way into work and thought: “Aye, that’ll do.”
Is it just me or is the bus well and truly back? pic.twitter.com/LvhI8Js6km
— Uber Chelsea FC 🏆 (@UberCheIseaFC) May 2, 2019
Someone apparently oblivious to the obvious put these words in Eden Hazard’s mouth: “It’s our home. Every time we step out to play in front of our fans, it just feels right. We’ve created so many memories at the Bridge over the years so it’s only fitting that we pay tribute to such an iconic stadium through the jersey.”
The home shirt was unveiled more than three weeks before the end of last season and, to be fair, it’s a natty little number. Such a shame that the half-and-half socks ruin it completely…
— Kit Crimes ⚽️ (@KitCrimes) July 11, 2019
“The new jersey is the now-familiar deep red with white pinstripes based on the 1982-83 season when Liverpool won their 14th league title at the end of Paisley’s last season in charge,” Liverpool proudly told us all. They also say that each shirt will feature ‘an official swing tag dedicated to the legend’. Anyone?
Jordan Henderson added, almost certainly without actually saying the words: “This year’s home kit is incredibly strong. I’m really looking forward to wearing it every time we play at our beloved home of Anfield, as a symbol of the pride and passion you have when you’re a Red. It’s also a really fitting tribute to one of our greatest managers, Bob Paisley, and is a fantastic way to remember all his success.”
The away kit, a white outfit with navy and red accents, is a plain-looking jersey, which may come as blessed relief to some of the players who’ve been made to wear some God-awful garments on the road in recent years.
Liverpool claim the shirt ‘draws graphic inspiration from the iconic street signs visible around Anfield stadium’. Come again? It looks more like a tribute to England’s Euro ’88 kit, a glorious celebration of three group defeats out of three. Or perhaps Bournemouth left their away kit in the Anfield dressing room last season…
— Ben (@MagicMepham) June 7, 2019
Either way, someone obviously forgot to conjure some original words to attribute to Virgil van Dijk so they recycled Henderson’s lines: “Liverpool Football Club is my club – I’m proud to wear the shirt every single day when I walk out on to the pitch, when we’re at Anfield and also when we’re playing away from home. The signature tribute in the shirt is also a fantastic way to recognise and remember all the success of one of our greatest managers, Bob Paisley.”
1) Manchester United
Of course Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first new United jersey is a tribute to the Treble in 1999. What else were you expecting? It would’ve been dreadful timing had City not bottled it in the Champions League last season.
Basically, it’s a red template shirt with a few numbers: ‘The new shirt acknowledges the minutes in which those historic goals were scored with 90+1 and 90+3 printed on the sleeves. The dates of the FA Cup final win over Newcastle United and decisive Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur are also displayed, along the bottom of the shirt.’
That’ll definitely inspire Anthony Martial as he looks down with his chin on his chest when United go 1-0 down at home to Crystal Palace.
The Treble tribute continues with David De Gea’s new gear:’ The home goalkeeper jersey has a tiger pattern featuring a dark purple two-tone design, inspired by the top worn by our legendary No.1, Peter Schmeichel, during the 1998/99 season.’
‘Dark purple two tone design, referencing the kit Schmeichel wore in 98-99.’ There is a likeness….. pic.twitter.com/RUadLnwpjG
— Rob Price (@SaintRobinho86) May 16, 2019
Adidas ramped up the bullsh*t when unveiling the new away kit, which is beige in every sense: “Breaking away from the traditional colours of a United away jersey, the new shirt features a fresh savannah-toned aesthetic and intricate patterned design, that takes its inspiration from the many mosaics that adorn the streets of Manchester’s creative district, the Northern Quarter.”
👕👹 'Born from the pavement, taking inspiration from the many mosaics that colour the streets of Manchester's creative district, the Northern Quarter'
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) July 12, 2019
Looks more like snakeskin to us, which might be appropriate on the backs of some of those players.