Underrated United Shirts
Whilst there some clear favourites in my round up of the best retro Manchester United shirts, it was hard to keep the list to just 10. Even in the days when new shirts, for the most part, lasted two full seasons, there are plenty to pick from United’s red, white & black (and the odd blue!)
It probably doesn’t make sense to write a post titled ‘underrated’ and start with two of the most famous United shirts in recent history, but given these didn’t make my original top 10 it’s fair game.
1997-2000 Champions League Home Shirt
A real one-off piece, though perhaps the start of an increased commercial approach for replica shirts from United. The Champions League home shirt from 1997-2000 was worn exclusively in that competition, most famously in the 1999 Final win. A real classy shirt with it’s red sheen and full collar, adding a touch of class in the most prestigious games. United have long worn white shorts & socks in European games, a subtle but stylish switch from the usual black socks.
1998-2000 Home Shirt
Another great memory from the treble winning season, the regular home shirt had a matching collar to the European version with added zip. With the standard Umbro logo less prominent on the chest it’s well compensated for with the strip down the sleeves, helping make this shirt iconic in United’s history.
1999-2000 Away Shirt
A shirt I was wary of when I was younger due to it’s cotton like texture. The first navy shirt (before a deluge in the 2010s) with silver detail, and rare in that it’s the only variation with ‘Sharp Digital’ sponsorship. Not seen too frequently as it was only around for one season, but it’s most memorable outing was a 2-1 win away at Arsenal, courtesy of two goals from Keane.
2003-2005 Away Shirt
United’s core colours of red, white and black should always be the colours of each seasons three kits in my opinion. Nothing is more intimidating and powerful than an all-black strip, this the best since the 1993-1995 version. What better game to feature in than ‘the tunnel game’ with Keane squaring up to Vieira pre-game, before a 4-2 win at Highbury. Unfortunately it’s last outing was the 2005 FA Cup Final defeat against the same opponents; in recent years this picture has done the rounds with fans yearning for the quality line up we were blessed with in that era.
2002-2003 Away Shirt
There aren’t many Nike shirts in my top 20, maybe that’ll change over time as they become older and more nostalgic, however the one thing they generally got right in their 15 tenure was the keep things simple. Using the simplicity and contrast of United’s core colours is all that’s ever needed. This 2002-03 away shirt was just that, with a smart collar to boot. Ferdinand would always make my best ever XI and for some reason my overriding memory of this shirt is as worn Rio with his bleached blond hair.
1994-1996 Third Shirt
What was I saying about simplicity? In a rare vertical stripe edition, the 1994-96 third shirt paid homage to the 1968 European Cup Win, with the crest and former players names embossed in the design. There’s something about the badge being stitched into a shield as with this shirt, the ’97-00 Champions League shirt and many others in the 90s, an extra touch of class. With the 1995-96 league title sealed on the last day away at Middlesbrough this shirt got a fortunate outing with the trophy.
1986-1988 Third Shirt
Another from the blue archives and back to the classic adidas designs of the 80s. I’m a big fan of the classic trefoil logo and of course the full Manchester United Football Club badge, whilst the royal blue shade is proper United. All this makes the 1986-88 shirt a much sought after classic.
1986-1988 Away Shirt
It’s hard to feature an 80s United shirt without throwing in the respective away or third edition, a bonus of adidas’ use of the same templates. Another really simple design with the red Sharp logo looking exactly that and blending in nicely. Maybe not a classic given it was worn in a quiet few seasons in between the ’85 and ’90 cup wins, but still a favourite due to it’s style.
1996-1998 Home Shirt
A final home shirt for this list, and another really unique design from Umbro following their 1994-96 home shirt. The 90s clearly lovely an embossed shirt with a collar, with this particular design also a button-up. Whilst Cantona’s famous collar up look was more memorable in previous home shirts, he certainly put this kept this one relevant with it’s most famous outing arguably his audacious chip and celebration against Sunderland in ’97.
1996-1998 Third Shirt
A final shirt for this ‘reserve’ top 10 and perhaps not one that most United fans would pick, so maybe this shirt is just one I was fond of in my childhood. With a collar and button similar to it’s home counterpart and the Umbro logo subtlety worked into the side and panel and sleeves; it had an almost corduroy feel to it which is probably what sticks in my memory. Classic Football Shirts have a good round up of United’s top blue shirts on twitter featuring this one and most of the others I’ve featured.
Make sure to go back and re-read my original top 10 retro United shirts if this list has sparked an interest.
All shirts images from ClassicFootballShirts.co.uk