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REMEMBERED | 25 years since Manchester United's grey kit fiasco

25 years ago this week, Manchester United made their excuses entered Premier League folklore by c...



25 years ago this week, Manchester United made their excuses entered Premier League folklore by changing their kits at half-time during a drubbing by Southampton.

It was the fifth time that United had worn their now-infamous grey Umbro kit - and they didn't win a single game with it on their collective back.

Some of those involved in the match remembered the day that a 3-1 win for Southampton closed the gap at the top of the title race between Manchester United and Newcastle.

Gary Neville on Manchester United grey kit

"Why would we have had another spare kit ready? It never came across well, because you're losing and you change your shirts at half-time," Neville told Sky Sports in 2020.

"It's a bit unique, but there was a bit of science behind it. Sir Alex had employed a couple of years before Professor Gail Stephenson from Liverpool University, and we had her as our 'eye coach'.

"It is going to sound really daft, but one of the great theories around football that was presented at Manchester United at the time was that match sharpness was nothing to do with your physical fitness. It was to do with your eye muscles being able to react to things happening on the pitch.

"Sir Alex had this in his head before the game that this kit was a problem because he'd been told by Gail. We had a full set of kit ready to put on at half-time. You don't take another kit to a game unless you're thinking there's a problem with it. He had this in his head, but it didn't come across very well."

"There were no conversations... it was 'get the kits off' from the kit man Albert [Morgan]. We lost in the kit previously [at Arsenal and Liverpool]. Sir Alex did have his superstitions and his beliefs, but I genuinely think he felt there was a problem with this kit and the Southampton game was the final straw!"

Indeed, Ferguson himself explained his decision at the time.

"The players don't like the grey strip. The players couldn't pick each other out," he said after the match.

"They said it was difficult to see their team-mates at distance when they lifted their heads.

"It was nothing to do with superstition. This club went 26 years without winning the league and we didn't think about changing the red shirts. It is nothing to do with that at all."

However, Saints legend Matt Le Tissier, a scorer of one of their three goals in the first half, remembers it quite differently.

"It was probably one of the worst excuses I've heard," he told Sky.

"It was definitely a case of the manager taking the heat off of his players. We just battered them in the first half. We were unbelievable.

"I remember they got a consolation in stoppage-time but it was nothing to do with their kit."

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Manchester United SAINTS Southampton