We have already looked at the new Manchester United kit for 2019-20 and the fact that it is supposed to commemorate the 1999 Champions League win but doesn’t actually look all that much like the strip from two decades ago.
In last Monday night’s game at Wolverhampton Wanderers though, the Red Devils did at least break out white socks to provide a look more representative of that European kit (as far as we are aware, the first time an English team has had such a designated strip).
Some of the players might be not so happy with the new outfit, and the combination may not be all that fondly remembered by Paul Pogba – if we were up on our predictions, we’d be checking if the odds on him scoring his next penalty have changed. Some people may say that it’s only an outfit, but it has been known that the kit affects the playing skills of the players. If they love their outfit, they probably will gain more confidence in the game. By that, their skill might be affected in a positive or negative way (depending on their psychological view on the outfit) and lead to a change in the Premier League betting odds if we are taking United as an example. Keeping the players happy with the outfit is one of the biggest challenges for designers and sponsors.
The white socks worn at Molineux – necessitated by the fact that Wolves have black first-choice socks this season – are almost identical to the alternative set from last season’s navy third strip, the only difference being the inclusion of a black adidas logo on the back.
While they did carry a small ‘Manchester United’ wordmark in gold on the front, they brought to mind a set of plain white socks unexpectedly worn by United at home to Watford on the opening day of 1984-85.
As usual, the United home strip was red shirts, white shorts and black socks. However, the Football League Handbook, for reasons unknown, listed the socks as having red and white hoops.
With the Hornets always cognisant of kit-clashing elements back then, they brought their black away socks rather than the red home set. However, as the hooped socks in the handbook didn’t exist, it meant that both sides had black socks and referee David Hutchinson insisted that United sort the issue.
As their kits had only been launched just before the start of the season, the white socks from the new United away kit weren’t to hand and so a trip to a local sports shop was necessitated so that 13 plain white sets could be purchased.
It meant a delay to kick-off, though it didn’t unduly affect United as they led through Gordon Strachan’s penalty, but Nigel Callaghan’s late equaliser earned Watford a point.
Incidentally, the return fixture was the final game of the season and, while United have a well-earned reputation for wearing red shirts unless it can avoided, on this occasion they wore all-white as they lost 5-1.