For a while now English football fans have been waiting with bated breath to see the kit that our players will wear as they attempt, once more, to bring football home with an assault on South Africa in the 2010 World Cup (provided we don’t cock up qualification again).
Now it seems that pictures of the new kit have actually, legitimately leaked, and I reckon it’s not only nice, but it’s a statement about the progression (or regression) of the English national side.
I think that for some time 99% of England fans have been hoping that the supposed leak of the shirt from a while back (pictured below) was not the shirt we would be wearing. It was hideous, and to be quite honest, looked like those pyjamas that you always see for sale in supermarkets when there is a major tournament on.
However, it now seems like legitimate pictures of the real kit have surfaced – and about time really, seeing as it will be debuted in the friendly against Slovakia this week. Course, it could be a very clever scam, but the picture that has leaked seems very much to match up with the teaser videos that Umbro have released to get people talking.
I personally think that the new kit looks great, and if you watch the videos you’ll see that Umbro were trying very much to recreate the classic retro styling of previous kits, to the extent where they have even designed a new England crest. I think they’ve pulled off the retro look and it even has a slight modern tint to it that’s very pleasing. Here’s the leaked picture (apparently some sites have already been asked to remove it) for your viewing pleasure:
I think they may want to get John Terry a slightly bigger one for when he’s actually playing, because despite all their talk of tailoring each shirt individually for the current squad (again, it’s in those pesky videos), I think JT will need a touch more room to move. I also hope that the away kit is redesigned to match this for the world cup, because otherwise it will be quite a contrast.
The star that represents England’s solitary world cup win hasn’t been removed, even though you can’t make it out in this picture, it has been changed to a subtle white version above the crest. This is, I assume, so it doesn’t compromise the retro-styling, and though I can understand that, I think it should be a little more prominent. Sure, we’ve only got one star, but we might as well be proud of it.
Other than that though, I think it’s very classy. The red umbro and a clip in one of the videos suggests that we will return to seeing red names and numbers on the shirts, which I suppose is more in-keeping with the flag of St. George, and it also looks as though we will be wearing white shorts. All white can be pretty classy when done right, and I think the players should look pretty smart wearing this kit.
Of course, while it’s all very well getting excited about the aesthetics of a new kit, it doesn’t really matter. What counts is that the fella’s wearing this kit perform well and hopefully get to lift a bloody trophy while wearing it. There has been much talk in recent years of England’s golden generation having been wated, or a failure, and in many ways, I think this kit almost represents a symbolic starting again.
It’s a very plain kit compared to recent efforts, and it looks as though we’re wiping the slate clean across the board. Capello has come in as boss and initial signs have been promising, largely because he has for the most part avoided falling into the traps of his predecessors, with regards trying fruitlessly to accommodate the big names, despite the fact that they clearly don’t work.
We have also seen more young players be given a chance to impress, the team that beat Germany especially was considered by many to be almost a ‘B’ team, but really, it was made up of players who for so long have been tipped as England’s future but until now haven’t been given a chance.
Capello too has been willing to hand call ups to players who play for unfashionable clubs or who are new to the international scene, and this sets a refreshing new precedent too. The likes of Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka wouldn’t have been given a chance under Eriksson or McClaren, but for those who watch the Premier League week in and week out, it’s clear that they deserve a shot.
In many ways then, in the time since Capello took over as England manager, we have seen a return to basics. A return to times when to play for England was not an act of celebrity, but a recognition of form and talent. Back in ’66, when we earnt our only star, the team that took to the field was made up of players who were hard working and honest as well as talented. It was a different age and we can’t altogether rekindle it, but Capello has shown a willingness to at least make players earn their caps again.
And so I think this new kit is appropriate in its representation of that. Gone is the flashiness of the previous England regimes. It is a pure, simple design and shoul be worn by footballers who have a pure and simple focus. We do not need to dress up our side with stars and wags and fancy players, just like the shirt doesn’t need to be adorned with flashy bits of trim and all these synthetic badges and labels etc.
In many ways then, this kit can be regarded as a step backwards. It’s a step back into the realms of time, but it’s also a step back from the dismal failure of Euro 2008. In many ways that was an event that caused all of English football to step back and think “right, things need to change, what we’ve been doing is not working”. This kit is a reflection of that, it’s a new beginning, a clean slate. Let’s hope that we can step backwards from our failure and return to the glory days of English football.
And then, if we earn another star, lets design a big brash kit that really overemphasises the two stars. Just kidding. A classy kit for classy football, that’s what Umbro seems to believe. That’s what I hope. That’s what a nation hopes.