When Umbro began to roll out their ‘Tailored by Umbro’ range in the late 2000s, they began to use a phrase which covered the reluctance of teams to wear alternative home shorts and socks, preferring to switch to a full change kit instead.
As you can see in this excellent piece by John Devlin, it mentions how clubs such as Manchester City and Blackburn were opting against mashups so as to preserve “the integrity of the kit”, i.e. not sullying the intended look.
To be fair, City’s 2009-10 kit was a corker, though they were forced to wear their black away socks with the home shirts and shorts in an FA Cup game at Stoke. It was a rare exception to the general rule though, as was the wearing of their 2014-15 sky-blue home shorts at the start of 2015-16 at Everton. One would imagine the rationale for that latter one was that the referee didn’t mind royal blue against sky blue once both sides didn’t have white shorts.
By and large, though, City either wore their home kit in its original form or else changed fully – for instance, Chelsea wore change blue socks at the Etihad last season but City were in their third kit when the sides met at Stamford Bridge.
All of which makes it so odd that City wore sky blue shorts away to Shakhtar Donetsk in their final Champions League group game last week.
In four of their previous five group games, Shakhtar had worn their home orange and black shirts with black shorts and socks – even forcing Feyenoord to wear white shorts and socks when they hosted the Ukrainians in Rotterdam.
The one exception was in Manchester, when they wore their away kit with black shorts, and then in the final game they opted for all-white.
Even then, either City’s maroon away or very dark green third would surely have been acceptable to UEFA and preferable to the club, but perhaps they only travelled with the home kit and the change shorts as a contingency.
They lost that game 2-1 – their first defeat of the season – but were back in white shorts as they won 2-1 against Manchester United on Sunday.