Manchester United and adidas combine for reimagined vintage

10/05/17

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The Manchester United away kit for 2017-18 adopts the same all-over pattern worn on the road by Alex Ferguson’s men in their 1990-91 and 1991-92 campaigns. Many fans remember the image fondly – but what were the standout moments of this era? Kitbag.com rewinds…

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Do you remember the first time?

The original blue edition of the pattern made its first appearance against Sunderland at Roker Park on 1 September 1990. Donned by United standouts like Denis Irwin, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister and Paul Ince (each of whom would go onto to become staples of the club’s inaugural Premier League-winning squad), it was prolific Scottish forward Brian McClair who would score its first goal; rippling the home side’s net with the neatest of flick-on headers.

Welsh rare bit

The same design holds the unusual honour of being worn by United for a European away match… in the British Isles! 7 November 1990 was the date, as FA Cup holders United made the short journey to the world’s oldest international ground to take on Welsh Cup winners Wrexham at the Racecourse. Ferguson’s team arrived in Wales for this European Cup Winners’ Cup second leg carrying a 3-0 lead and further goals from Bruce and Mark Robins would secure their progression that night, in a tournament they would eventually win the following spring.

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Hit for six

United’s biggest win in their adidas special came on 28 November 1990, as they handed George Graham’s Arsenal a relentless 6-2 mauling. The Gunners would be beaten only once in Division One all season, conceding only 18 times across their 38 fixtures. On this evening however, United ran riot, winning their League Cup tie at Highbury comfortably, after an inspired tactical change that saw Ferguson unleash Danny Wallace as part of a four-man attack. With Wallace joining Welsh internationals Mark Hughes and Clayton Blackmore on the scoresheet in North London that evening, the next morning’s headlines would belong to 19-year old Lee Sharpe, who fired home a hat-trick that left the champions-elect reeling.

Joy division

As fate would have it, adidas’ distinctive design would be the last used by United on the road before the traditional First Division re-generated, Dr. Who-style, into the Premier League behemoth we know today. Among its best-remembered league outings, Hughes’ winner would prove enough to see off Southampton at the Dell, while goals from McClair, Neil Webb and Andrei Kanchelskis secured a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace. By this time, the bulk of United’s championship-winning side had largely come together and while they would be pipped by Howard Wilkinson’s Leeds this season, an era of domestic dominance had almost arrived.

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Goodbye, farewell…

The most famous outing for the original shirt would be its last of all; the 1992 League Cup Final. With United fans eager to see if prodigy Ryan Giggs could cap his first appearance in a Wembley showpiece with a match-winning performance, the wing wizard would find his chances limited by a Nottingham Forest team home to future teammates Roy Keane and Teddy Sheringham. Nevertheless, the day and the trophy would belong to United, as McClair would fittingly bookend the strip’s two-year tenure by scoring what proved its final goal.

Here and now

Today, 25 years later, United are League Cup champions again; and the club will be hopeful this updated 90s throwback can form the visual foundations of another trophy-winning tilt. A contemporary refresh for the 2017-18 campaign, this reimagined restoration of an old favourite restores its forerunner’s memorable pattern in a tonal black backdrop; providing a hybrid heritage identity that looks back fondly, while heading on with bold assurance. AC

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Photography

  1. 1992 League Cup Final from ManUtd.com

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