Ultimate United Articles
the 2003-06 White Pinstripe Kit Classic Kits
A look back at the last Manchester United kit that was used for three consecutive seasons, and how the Red Devils fared when playing in it.
By Philip Meese, Chief Editor
It’s the time of year that Manchester United bring out their new kits for the upcoming season, with a new home kit revealed earlier this week. This will be the fifth season running that the Red Devils have brought out new home, away and third kits. It’s a far cry from the days when a kit would be normally used for at least two seasons.
There were certain occasions where United would use a strip in three separate campaigns. The last time this happened was with a white strip, which was released 15 years. Here we look at how United got on whenever they played in this strip.
United’s third kit was unveiled at the start of the 2003-04 campaign, which was second season of having Nike as their kit supplier. The shirt was predominantly white, with horizontal red and black pinstripes across the body and the sleeves. It featured a white, round necked collar with black trim. The shorts and socks would be white or black depending on the colours worn by their opposition.
The design itself was a common club kit that Nike supplied to several teams across Europe. Barcelona were one such team, who wore the design in beige colour, with red and blue pinstripes. You may remember Ronaldinho scoring a spectacular chip against Chelsea while wearing that strip.
The white third kit was given its debut against United’s biggest rivals Liverpool at Anfield. It turned out to be a rather happy first appearance, as a double from Ryan Giggs secured a 2-1 victory for the Red Devils. This was a rare appearance in the Premier League, as the kit was used mainly for cup competitions.
Its next outing was in the F.A. Cup 3rd round, in a 2- 0 win over Aston Villa. Paul Scholes scored both goals in that game, which would be the first of three visits to Villa Park that season, for both United and the white kit they were wearing. In the next round, United were drawn away to Northampton Town and once again sported the white kit, with an own goal plus strikes from Diego Forlán and Mikaël Silvestre helping the Reds cruise to a 3-0 win.
The F.A. Cup was United’s only trophy of the campaign (unless you count the Community Shield), and their second trip to Villa Park was to face holders Arsenal, whose so-called invincible team would end up as champions. Once again, Paul Scholes struck to shows that the Gunners weren’t unbeatable after all. His goal set up a final with Millwall, which United won 3-0.
The final appearance that the white pinstripe kit made that term was on United’s third trip of the season to Villa Park, on the last day of the Premier League campaign. Despite the fact that United had nothing to play for, they put out a strong side and won 2-0 with goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo. Five games played, five wins in the white kit so far.
It was more of a mixed bag the second time around for the white pinstripe kit. Once again, it was mainly used in the cup competitions, with its first appearance coming in the Champions League. A 0-0 draw was played out between United and Sparta Prague, which was as uneventful as most of the Red Devils’ season. A week later, they donned the kit again in a League Cup tie away to Crewe Alexandra, a 3-0 win in which the late Liam Miller scored his one and only goal for United.
The only time the kit was used in the Premier League during 2004-05 came, once again, at Villa Park. This was the fourth time it had been used there, which must be some sort of record for a United away kit. The match saw Ryan Giggs claim the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory.
The next time this strip was used, its final appearance of the season, saw United slump to their first defeat while wearing it. Having lost 1-0 at Old Trafford to AC Milan a fortnight earlier, the Italians won by the same score again, with Hernán Crespo scoring the winner in both legs, to knock United out of Europe.
During the summer of 2005, Manchester United unveiled a new away kit for the upcoming season. This one was an all blue strip with red trim but, surprisingly, there was no news of a third kit. This was rather unusual at the time, as most kits had a shelf life of two seasons.
For the majority of the campaign, United used the blue kit when they wanted to avoid a kit clash. The only time the white pinstripe was during a Champions League game with Lille, which was switched to the Stade de France in Paris for advertising reasons. It’s possible that the only reason the strip was used at all was due to the fact that Lille play in a red and blue strip, which would have clashed with both of United’s home and away kits.
This was the last time the white strip was used, and it went out with barely a whimper as a lacklustre United team went down 1-0. Had United progressed beyond the group stages, the kit may have been used in latter stages of the tournament. As it was, the strip was never used again by the club, for either a competitive match. The following season saw United don a new white away kit, with the blue one relegated to their third choice strip.
As away kits go, the white pinstripe probably boasts one of the best win ratios of any away strip the club has ever had. They played ten competitive matches while wearing it, and won seven of them. The three matches where they failed to win, two defeats and a draw, all came in Europe. United had a 100% win record in domestic matches played in that strip; 3 Premier League, 3 FA Cup and 1 League Cup.
Looking back it does seem surprising that the club only released one new kit prior to the 2005-06 season, given how frequently the club churns them out these days. Maybe that kind of record is the reason why it remains one of only two away strips (the other being the blue & white striped) that the club have used for more than two consecutive season in the Premier League era.
Added by Philip Meese on 18/07/2018 22:18:20