A loss in our last Champions League group game was disappointing but not really surprising given the side we put out. The performance was very encouraging I thought. Aaron Ramsey played very well after a couple of sub-par performances by his standards against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light and Citeh in the Carling Cup.
Debutant Tom Cruise (what a quality name!) at left-back did himself no harm either. Kyle Bartley did OK on his first appearance too. We now move on to a crucial League visit to Anfield on Sunday afternoon. The word on the street is that Benitez would be gone if they could afford to give him the push. I’ve always thought he’s overrated as a manager. He’s spent a fortune since arriving on Merseyside. A lot of his buys have been less than stellar. No manager gets it right every time in the transfer market, even the best of them. Benitez has more misses than most however.
I also think he fiddles with the team far too much, not only in rotating too many players but also in the tactical formation. Liverpool never all seem to be quite on the same page to me. Clearly he’s not a bad manager, just not as good as some make him out to be.
We need to keep on pressing on in the League. The Liverpool game is closely followed by another midweek visit to Burnley. The East Lancashire towns in the Pennine foothills have a micro-climate all of their own. Midweek in December wouldn’t have been my choice to play them away. These are the games we have to get three points in though if we’re to be in the mix for the title at the business end of the season. That’s for later however. We need all our attention on Sunday and Anfield at the moment.
On a less pressing note there’s been a bit of a debate on the REDaction mailing list about our current strips. Many don’t like them. I’m not keen myself on the current home strip. Nor do I think a lot of the two current change strips. I don’t absolutely hate any of them but Nike, which is a multi-billion pound transnational doesn’t seem to invest much in its textile designers. They’re not alone amongst sports manufacturers in this. Adidas, Puma and the other big kit companies are as bad. They all seem to recruit from the lower decile of textile design colleges.
They haven’t learnt the fundamental lesson that less is more when it comes to any type of clothing design. The over-fussy flashes, swirls and inlays in modern football kit design detract from the finished product. Amongst which are some real fashion crimes. Two that stick in the mind are the predominantly pink “Technicolor yawn” Huddersfield Town change strip of a few years ago and a likewise predominantly Green Celtic second kit from a few seasons ago. The day-glow hooped kit that Celtic wore at our place earlier this season was pretty horrific too.
I’m not a complete Luddite when it comes to kits. I advocated squad numbers and names on the back for years before they were finally introduced. Neither do I mind competition flashes on the arms of the shirts. I’d rather not have sponsor’s advertising on the front but I’m a realist about this. I do think though that there’s an interesting commercial study to be done on whether we might actually be better off overall financially if we didn’t put the sponsor’s name on the front of the shirt. Worth a look at I’d say. If in the end we’d lose out financially then fair enough, but let’s at least examine it in some detail with experts who know about these things.
Notoriously, kit designed which invoke horror amongst some in the Gooner Nation sell very well. In these days of £100 million plus pay bills we need to do as well as we can in this area. In the end you have to have a ticket to get into the ground but if you don’t like a shirt you can choose not to buy one and keep on going to the matches. Ticket prices are far more important to me than replica shirt designs and prices.
That said, I don’t like seeing the boys in a kit I think is horrible. I’d like to see the next home kit being a nice simple red with white sleeves with red/white trim on the neck and sleeves. The smartest strip we’ve ever had in my time was the simple, classic cotton shirts of the 1960s/1970s. I bet the players would love to go back to cotton too and using natural rather than artificial fibres is much better for the planet. Nike could steal a real march on the opposition if it went this way.
One suggestion I have for an away strip is to replace the red with black. I think black shirts with while sleeves, white shorts and black/white stockings would look very striking and smart and could be a big seller. Just a suggestion. Our change strip was something similar in blue and white for a good part of the 1950s.

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