The Twohundredpercent pre-season previews: Premier League kits
No self-respecting football supporter would be seen without their team’s 2011/12 shirt on the terraces this season. What’s wrong with you? Don’t love your club enough to spend 114 quid on a polyester nightmare?
Actually, kit design has improved immeasurably in recent years. Which is why it’s a real pity that this year’s offerings are beginning to show little signs that 1990s excess is starting to creep back in. God help a world where 1990s fashion starts to become desirably retro.
In the unlikely event that anyone would want to wear any of these 20 recycled plastic abortions from some sort of profound sartorial or aesthetic conviction, however, Twohundredpercent presents its annual guide to who’s wearing what.
Last season’s Arsenal kit was a much-needed return to form after a prolonged period of pretending to be Charlton Athletic. Nike have kept things simple and traditional here, praise be. The yellow and purple (no doubt officially called gold and lingonberry or somesuch) away kit is shunted to the third kit this year. A pity, as I rather liked it. Pinstripes! An even bigger pity is what has replaced it, which looks like someone sabotaged the AS Monaco laundry day with a few bottles of Quink.
Aston Villa’s slow descent into chequered shirt hell continues this year. It’s made its way from the trim and onto the body of both home and change jerseys. However, Nike again have kept things nicely traditional and restrained. Although I’m not quite sure where the idea of black socks came from.
Umbro have done Blackburn proud yet again this year. A clean and tidy traditional kit with chunky red trim. And not a picture of a chicken nugget to be seen! The away kit eschews the traditional red for a yellow and black number, but it is similarly restrained. Where restraint = good.
Bolton’s long term ties with Reebok probably make the kit decisions a one-sided affair. This may explain their relentless terribleness. Yet again Reebok have gone mad with every single possible piece of asymmetric trim they can imagine. Then compounded the horror with foot-high Reebok logos. As if they’re happy about it. The away and third kit (last year’s royal blue second kit) are rather more restrained. Let’s hope that Bolton play Tottenham and Fulham away every week.
Chelsea’s kit this season is all blue with white stockings. Right, that dealt with, let’s move onto their change attire. Which are from the very depths of Hell itself. Black is retained for the second kit, but HOLD ON, oh yes, it’s a load of blue squares. It’s the set from a 1980s gameshow after they dim the lights to roll the credits. The third choice kit is all white but no wait, HOLD ON, oh for heaven’s sake. At least they got rid of that bloody green thing, I suppose.
Le Coq Sportif have produced a lovely, traditional and plain kit this year for Everton. After last year’s bold experiment with a shade of pink known as PINK, the second kit sees a return to amber shirts! The off-white, off-grey, gruel and navy third kit remains. However, I’m not sold on the blue stockings for the home kit. Everton’s socks should be white.
How hard can it be to make a white shirt and black shorts? Kappa demonstrate with some alacrity that it can be very hard indeed. In fact, they’ve forgone black shorts altogether for an all-white home kit (with Chelsea-inspired built-in bra) with spectacularly obtrusive black trim and company logos. Second kit is all black with red logos. Third is gold and blue. And just in case you’ve been squinting at the screen about to get a magnifying glass out, Fulham’s sponsor this season are FX Pro.
Alas, Liverpool retain last year’s shirt, not made from recycling old Quality Street wrappers so much as just knitting them into a single jersey. How hard can it be to make an all-red kit? Second choice is all black, with less busywork on the jersey, praise gods. Third is all white with what is no doubt called a “spash” of “cyan” and “navy”. Or spunky two-tone blue spuffins.
Manchester City’s Umbro kits for the last two seasons have been such masterpieces of understated beauty that they were simply bound to go mad with power. The home strip is now all sky blue with white hoops on the socks. Ideal for people who miss Coventry City. The shirt incorporates what is probably a representation of the Manchester skyline, but may also be the stock market standings of their owners. Second kit sees the return of the old faithful red and black striped shirt but wait a minute, let’s have hooped sleeves, no-one will notice. Third choice is last year’s dark blue second strip with last year’s white shorts. RIP, Manchester City’s white kit with the red and black sash. It seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind.
Nike continue to make Manchester United’s kits be SLIGHTLY worse than all their other kits in an effort to slow down the Old Trafford juggernaut. This season’s home strip is rather more restrained than recent iterations. The change strip, migraine blue with black hoops and black shorts, is a total bloody nightmare. Last season’s, “holy crap, it’s Dave Bassett’s Sheffield United and they’ve mastered time travel”, white and black early 1990s hodge podge of old shite is retained as the third choice.
Puma have gone mental here. How hard, seriously, is it to make a bloody striped shirt? Instead of taxing their brains too hard, they’ve gone for a black shirt with white sleeves and two vertical lines in the middle of nowhere. Like interference on a monitor. The away kit – orange shirts with jauntily-angled blue trim and white shorts – is obviously because the Toon are missing Blackpool. A magnificently, brain-bendingly, achingly pointless all-black third strip completes the collection. I nominate Newcastle United for the coveted 2011/12 Twohundredpercent Worst Kit in the Premier League Prize. And seeing as I’m the judging panel, they’ve won.
From Newcastle’s ridiculous to the sublime. Errea have made Norwich a clean, classic and beautiful kit. Things like this should be sent to football shirt designers everywhere, along with a vial of my tears. Instead of the red away strip this year, however, a tastefully restrained green and white number steps into the breach. The best kit in the league this season, no question.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS
QPR’s recent kits have made everyone glad they’ve been out of harm’s way in the Championship. It’s nice, then, that a return to the top flight sees the return of actual hoops. You know, the kind that hoop all the way round and meet in the middle and that. Well done, Lotto. Hopefully Rangers won’t be needing their away kits. The second choice looks like an old orange and blue Luton kit destroyed by a wronged lover with a pair of box cutters, whilst last year’s change strip of Bristol Rovers but red makes an unwelcome return as number three.
How hard is it to make a striped shirt? Honestly. Stoke’s kits this season are virtually unchanged from last year. The second choice being an object lesson that, no matter how cool Internazionale are, no English team can pull off the blue and black stripe combo. It’s probably the white trim.
Sunderland’s kit is a striped shirt done properly, complete with the sound of me fainting. The bold black V neck is a nice addition. Pity about the two hoops floating about on the socks. The change strip is a return to sky blue and white, with an utterly unnecessary horizontal bar across the chest and socks. Why, Umbro? Why? These would be my favourite kits of them all were it not for these pointless garnishes. They’ve made a lovely Victoria sponge and then carefully placed a single pubic hair in the middle of it.
Swansea’s kit last season was about as close to an plain, all-white strip as it is possible to have in these days of total madness. This season’s isn’t bad. An off-the-peg Adidas number with, again, some ridiculous garnishes. The two diagonal bars on the home shirt. Why? The great big hump-backed whale thing on the shirt of the all-orange away kit. Why?
Tottenham’s kits last season were daft. This year, Puma have made them something altogether more restrained. Remember, restrained = good. The all-white cup only kit (different sponsor) is retained, but the home kit is very nice. The purple away kit, not so nice. The all-black with a streak of wee third kit, worse.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
How hard is it to just make a BLOODY STRIPED SHIRT? West Brom’s new two-tone blue change strip also succumbs to the growing horror of the oh look, it’s subtle hoops, everyone.
Wigan’s kit this year is a lovely thing, made by Mi Fit. Ah, another classic from the Mi Fit range. White shorts replace blue, and the preposterous kit-length vertical white stripe is gone. Away kit is navy and gold Wimbledon, with a nice plain all-white third kit.
Last year Burrda made Wolves one of the league’s more tasteful efforts. This continues into this season, bar for a trim piece on the home shirt which looks like it was done by a toddler with a marker pen when no-one was looking. Persisting with the all-black away kit opens the door to anyone who has managed to loot themselves a job lot of old-gold shorts to make themselves a few quid.