13.04.96: Manchester United’s grey day at The Dell | Football

It was a roasting hot day at The Dell. We didn’t have a great record there anyway, but this game went really badly – we were a goal down pretty quickly, and three behind by half-time. Obviously something had to change.

I’m not sure if any of the players mentioned the kit. Personally I felt that we were playing really poorly, and that we couldn’t really blame anything or anyone but ourselves. Having said that, it was a bit tricky to see players. It was all right if you had a bit of time to look up and see what was happening, but you didn’t see much if you only had time to glance. I think the weather had something to do with it too – the fact that it was so bright made our dull grey harder to make out.

Anyway, I don’t think anyone had time to complain. The manager just stormed in and said: “Get that kit off, you’re getting changed.” Those were the first words he said at half-time. I don’t think he liked the shirt anyway – our results had been poor whenever we wore it, and we certainly never played in it again.

It seems a bit strange that we were ready with a totally different kit to change into, but maybe it’s because someone thought that the grey kit might be confused with Southampton’s – although given that they wear red and white stripes it doesn’t seem very likely. We wore blue and white in the second half, and played a bit better. I’d probably put it down to a mixture of the new kit and the manager’s hairdryer treatment at half-time. We didn’t let any more in and Ryan Giggs scored towards the end.

Eric Cantona plays a pass during a miserable first half for United.

Eric Cantona plays a pass during a miserable first half for United. Photograph: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire/PA Images

The shirt is probably a collector’s item now, for all the wrong reasons. I think my dad’s got mine. He’s got all my old shirts. I feel sorry for anyone who’d bought the replica, because it was out of date pretty quickly. There was lots of hype about the kit change for a while after the game, because United were always bringing out new kits, but I think it passed us by. I know it was blamed for the defeat but I think we took responsibility for it as a team.

Given a choice, I’d say our all-black away kit was my favourite, followed by the all-white one we played in for the Cup-Winners’ Cup final in 1991. Simplicity is important for me, I suppose.

What happened next?

Manchester United lost four and drew one of their five (or four and a half) games in the notorious grey kit. It was officially retired two days after this game, and they proceeded to win every remaining fixture to take the title.

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