Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Sun 24 August 2008

Premier League Kit Parade (Part 4)

It's time for the thrilling climax to our look at the new Premier League shirts of 2008/09. Today, we survey the last five teams in alphabetical order, so let's begin with...

Sunderland
Another case of Umbro tidying up the over-proliferation of diamonds here as they give the Black Cats a much cleaner-looking and rather swish home shirt. A nice use of black around the v-neck and at the top of the arms makes this a rather decent design, mirrored in black and blue for the away shirt.

And here once again we see that black-and-blue-stripe combo that Middlesbrough have used for their own away shirt. Which is the better? It's difficult to say. Umbro have certainly done a decent job with their version for Sunderland and it's fair to say it's a nice contrast with the all-white affair that was used last season. Well done, Umbro.

Tottenham
Once again, there's a trilogy of new shirts to check out for The Lilywhites, thereby maximising those all important takings in the club shop. Yes, we are being cynical, but we're sure we must be speaking on behalf of some Spurs supporters out there...

So what do we have here? For a start, Tottenham's featureless but very stylish all-white home shirt from last year is replaced with one that has navy blue panels under the arms and a navy blue v-neck collar. It's not at all bad, we think, but somehow that plain white one was just a little bit special. Good, but not as good, if you see what we mean.

Then there's the new away shirt which this year is sky blue. It has to be acknowledged that Spurs have one of those constant talking points in place about which colours work best for the away shirt. For them, the debate is 'yellow or sky blue?' and though it will no doubt divide Tottenham fans in equal measures, we think yellow's better, but this blue edition looks really nice. It reminds us of those heady days when Clive Allen was banging in the goals at White Hart Lane, and that can be no bad thing.

And finally onto the third shirt which is a little bit odd. Where Spurs have recently resorted to a dark brown and gold outfit, this is black and gold. Does that suggest the brown colourscheme was a little bit too controversial to keep in place, we wonder? Whatever - this is again a nice shirt with a flappy collar just like the sky blue shirt, but what are those little white stripes on the left shoulder? We think it's a gesture of some sort relating to the Puma King range of boots and styling, but we're not sure. All we know is that it shouldn't be there, and that's an end to the matter.

All in all, three nice shirts from Puma, but don't expect them to be worn by the team next season as they won't be. The modern age of football kit design is a ruthless one, and it's best that we tell you the news now before you're hurt further down the line.

West Bromwich Albion
The Baggies are back! Not only that, but there's a new incarnation of those famous navy blue and white stripes from Umbro. This season, they've tried to invigorate that design with something original by incorporating an extra pinstripe either side of those navy blue bands. You might not be able to see it on our picture, but trust us it's there and it looks... er... not overly remarkable.

Add that to the lack of any significant sort of collar and what you end up with is a fairly featureless design that looks a little boring to us. Sorry Baggies fans, but there it is. We'd even go so far as to say their home shirt from last season was actually better, despite all those Umbro diamonds littered all over the shoulders.

And then there's the away shirt. How can we put this... it looks like something a referee would wear. It's yellow, with incredibly minimal styling and harsh though this sounds, it looks rubbish. Quite what Umbro were thinking when they produced this is beyond us - let alone what West Brom were thinking when they gave it the thumbs-up. This is arguably the worst shirt anyone will set eyes on this season, and that's all we can say about it. It's only our opinion, you understand, but we think it'll tally up with a lot of people. Sorry and all that.

West Ham United
While we're on the subject of Umbro, here's what they've come up with for West Ham this season. At home, they've put together a shirt that we think is OK but we're not sure why.

It looks not unlike Aston Villa's home shirt and seems smart enough in many respects, and yet it isn't a wholehearted nod towards something either traditional or particularly interesting. Basically we're saying it's neat and inoffensive but it won't win any design awards either.

Away from home, West Ham have bought into the Umbro template for this season - a plain shirt with two contrasting stripes across the upper part of the chest (see Everton away, England away, etc). This one's a pleasant summery blue with white and claret coloured bands and is really rather good.

A welcome return to the all-pale blue West Ham away outfit, but what we really want to see is the revival of those two horizontal claret stripes around the middle like Bobby Moore and Clyde Best used to wear circa 1970. No chance of that any time soon, we suppose...

Wigan Athletic
And so we reach the end of the road with Wigan and here we save a small surprise for last because The Latics have joined up with Champion as their new kit supplier. As far as we can remember, Champion haven't really had much to do with football kit production in the recent past, but they've got their foot in the door now and have even secured a contract with the Welsh FA.

All that aside, Wigan's new shirts look really good and are a credit to Champion as a new name on the scene. The home shirt has a crisp, clean look with bold blue and white stripes (take note Umbro/WBA) with some interesting little bits of business going on around the shoulder area too. Nothing too showy or distracting, mind - this is all good stuff and hits the spot nicely, in our opinion.

Then there's the away shirt which perhaps isn't so cut and dried by virtue of the fact that it's that controversial luminous yellow in colour. When Chelsea tried the same trick last season, Adidas' found themselves universally ridiculed for their efforts, but somehow this one looks less 'in your face' (if that's possible for a luminous yellow shirt).

Wigan's version simply uses some bold black piping around the shoulders and down the sides to create a look that's easy on the eye while being bold and, of course, highly visible on the pitch. Jolly good, we think - well done, Champion.

The end...?
So that's it - the end of our 20-team survey of all the new shirts for 2008/09, except for one shirt which has been launched in the last couple of weeks since Part 2 of our guide. It's Manchester City's new third shirt and it's already been worn in the club's opening Premier League fixture against Aston Villa.

It's predominantly Flame Orange with a navy blue sleeve and collar. The colourscheme is distinctive and works well, but ironically its effectiveness is almost undone by that totally unnecessary bit of yellow piping down the left shoulder. What's that there for, for crying out loud?!? We're sorry, Le Coq Sportif, but that bit of yellow you've included there cheapens the overall look and smacks of a designer who didn't know when to quit while they were ahead.

Still, let's not be too harsh. This has some elements of originality to it, like the asymmetrical sleeves and the use of colours, so it's not all bad. A reasonable try on behalf of LCS, but a note for future reference - don't get too fussy during the design stage. Keep it simple and the fans will be happy.

Here endeth the lecture.

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