Alan Biggs: Sheffield United are a kit of alright again

Sheffield United reveil their new kit and sponsor at Robin Hood Airport. Players Che Adams, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mark Duffy and Ben Whiteman, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley
Sheffield United reveil their new kit and sponsor at Robin Hood Airport. Players Che Adams, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mark Duffy and Ben Whiteman, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley
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Kit launches come round too often to be a red letter day in anyone’s diary. In fact, I can’t be alone in thinking football would be better off without them. The constant change for changes’ sake (as in more loose change).

But, if you have to be changing kit, then change it back to as close to tradition as possible. And, outside of minor alterations, keep it there.

As Sheffield United have hopefully rediscovered, what a team wears and how it looks is actually quite important.

That’s because, as Blades fans would tell you in song, it “fills up the senses.” It’s about pure emotion. Forget the commercial factors that drive so much of football these days; the emotional value is huge.

Which is why this column fervently welcomes United’s return to recognisable red and white stripes and hopes the club has learned that this is too symbolically significant to change.

It won’t necessarily help those inside the shirts to play better but the sickly kit of last season was surely part of the enormous disconnect between players and supporters.

Yes, there was a traditional reason for the 125th anniversary strip. Unfortunately, the 1890s look was taking history too far.

United’s home performances were almost a mirror image of that shirt. The lack of intensity reflected the thinnest of red pinstripes that were practically invisible from any distance.

In short, the team didn’t look or play like Sheffield United. Red is a virile colour. It has always stood for something bold and strong in the best of the modern eras, those of Dave Bassett and Neil Warnock.

First impressions count, not least on the opposition. The subliminal effect of those anaemic shirts of last season must have been projected quite powerfully into the subconscious of visitors to Bramall Lane.

As for the here and now, the delay in George Long agreeing a new deal is a reminder that, however promising a goalkeeper, he plays for a team in League One.

New boss Chris Wilder is having to operate a tighter budget and rightly so. Hopefully it will help him create a tighter team.

Recent experience shows that, in football, you don’t always get what you pay for. Sometimes paying over the odds can work against a club at this level. That appeared certainly to be true of United last season. There has to be a drive and hunger to go higher. We must assume that Wilder senses that in his first signings, Mark Duffy and Chris Hussey, even at the ages of 30 and 27 respectively. Age can be another misleading factor when it comes to calculating ambition. Jamie Vardy anyone?