The Red Devils will look a few shades lighter on the road this season as Adidas confirm pink as the colour of Manchester United’s new away shirts.
The designs which were leaked online this summer, were finally unveiled the day after a home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur left many on the red side of Manchester blushing.
The Old Trafford outfit who famously broke the mould by adopting black away shirts in the mid-90s, understand the value in producing something different, and are the latest in a line of clubs to have identified that when it comes to shirt sales, pink is the new black.
The official blurb from United and Adidas lists the Manchester Evening News’ old Football Pink paper (last seen in 2007) as the inspiration behind the new shirt, but this is purely and simply about revenue. Pink shirts sell and shock in the way black football shirts used to.
Of course pink shirts are nothing new, but the colour has equally never been regarded as traditional either.
Pink as a choice to wear in the macho world of sport divides opinion in a way that only chocolate brown and grey could ever rival.
For a society that pairs pink with girls and blue as the colour for boys, rarely aside from the leader of the Giro d’Italia or on the chests of French rugby players at Stade Français, has the colour been viewed as masculine or worthy of association with champions.
Sports psychologists tell us that winners prefer red, and Chelsea and Manchester City fans know that billionaires prefer shades of blue.
United and Adidas are aiming at a hungry global sportswear market including younger supporters and female fans who might be more comfortable wearing pink than your average supporter on the Stretford End.
Few clubs aside from Italian club Palermo, fittingly known as the Rosanero, have worn pink home kits but in recent years, more and more clubs have adopted the colour on their travels.
Juventus have a historical link with pink, originally wearing the colour with a fetching black tie until Notts County donated a set of shirts in black and white. The Turin club known as the Old Lady has since worn pink shirts on a number of occasions.
Scotland and Everton also have an association with salmon shades whilst teams with away records as diverse as Real Madrid, Northampton Town, Peterborough United, Grimsby Town and most latterly QPR; have all worn shocking shades of pink in recent years.
Sometimes clubs have produced one-off kits with a charitable motivation, such was the case with Oldham Athletic who’s shirts helped raise awareness and funds to fight Breast Cancer.
The proliferation of pink in modern football shows that supporters are looking for something different from the same re-hashed designs year after year. Clubs and sportswear firms need to capture the imagination of global markets and sell shirts and in that regard, it would seem rose coloured shirts are bang on trend.
Away kits allow for more experimentation than home shirts which generally follow a narrow brief. Love them or loathe them, clubs wouldn’t agree to new pink designs if supporters weren’t prepared to pay for them.
The pale pink United will wear this season is smart and the shirts are simple and pass the “looks good with jeans” test.
If black made Manchester United look menacing on the pitch, and grey meant that their players couldn’t be seen at all, how will rivals react to the Red Devils in rose?