Manchester United F.C. unveiled their new away kit today during their tour of South Africa. I neither love nor hate these kits- I don’t understand them. Let’s start with the shirt.What I like are the clean lines and the color-matched club crest (I’m kind of a sucker for that approach in the way I am for shirts with sashes). What I don’t like is that the shirts- it appears- are meant to be worn untucked. Perhaps it’s my OCD tendencies rearing their ugly head, but the rule I learned as a player and have insisted upon as a coach is “tuck in your shirt and pull up your socks.” In this case, one out of two isn’t good enough. The other thing I don’t like about these shirts is that the collar and placket design and the red trim on both make these shirts look likes something that might be worn by the waitstaff at a futuristic Asian restaurant. Nike says it’s a “Henley Crew” collar…but it’s not. A Henley collar does not stand up. If it does, it’s a “cadet” collar. Jeez, Nike!
I’m not a fan of the shorts at all. The color-matched club crest just doesn’t work as well in all white and the shorts themselves look like board shorts when you see them up close- they have a smaller scale version of the same checked pattern (Nike calls it “gingham”) that appears on the new home shirts. I also think there should be some red on the shorts- maybe in the crest or as a border around the Nike branding. It would probably be awkward looking, but I don’t like the fact that the shirt and socks are white/black/red and the shorts are only black/white.
The socks are fine. I think I’d like them better if there is some sort of club branding on the back of them but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Now that I’ve dealt with all of this rationally, I’m going to get irrational for a moment. This kit is a “flagship” for Nike’s various uniform technologies- it’s made from recycled plastic bottles, it’s 23% lighter and 20% stronger than last year’s kit, there are laser-cut vent holes, blah, blah, blah. But guess what? The club crest is a heat transfer. Did you hear what I just said? IT’S NOT EMBROIDERED!!! Just like every other cheap, knock-off replica top, after a few washings it’s going to start to fade, peel, crack, or all of the above. Not an issue when you’re a multi-billion dollar club getting your kits for free from a multi-billion dollar sportswear company, but are you going to drop between $80-100 on a top that might not last until next season.