Attacking the clones

Three words that are guaranteed to strike doom and dread into the depths of your soul... no, not ‘I’m Nigel Farage’, nor is it ‘No toilet paper.’

If you’re something of a football kit design fan, the one phrase that’s guaranteed to blight your very passion for the subject matter these days is ‘Every kit ranked.’ It’s very much the 2019 ‘Worst kits ever’, of which much has been discussed on previous episodes of The Kitbliss Podcast.

Like a Deutsche Mark after the First World War, articles titled ‘Every kit ranked’ are not difficult to find. Anyone can write one and many people already have. They’re very easy to construct. First of all, pick a football competition - let’s say the Premier League in England. Then pick a year or season - the 2019-20 season, for instance. Finally, show photos of all the kits from that competition in the order you like them best. Simple.

Oh and before you ask, no - there’s no need to explain why you don’t like certain kits, or why some are ranked higher than others. That would mean having to make an effort, and that’s something people don’t do anymore.

To prove my point, let’s look at an ‘Every kit ranked’ article that appeared on the web only yesterday and assess why it’s as lazily put together as a two-piece jigsaw puzzle. (Click the images for a larger version.)

To begin with, I shan’t name the writer of the article in question. Let’s just say he’s young enough to be my own son and recently published three articles to his website in one day. Clearly a man that spends far too long honing his blog posts to perfection before unleashing them, hesitantly, on an expectant public.

20. Norwich City

In this example, the author has ranked every away shirt in the 2019/20 Premier League from worst to best. And how has he begun this thorough analysis of the material put before him?

By uploading a picture of the Norwich City away kit and not saying a single word about he dislikes it more than any other away kit in the Premier League. Is it the colour he’s so offended by? Is it the markings on the shoulder of the shirt? Is it the way the player’s standing with his hands on his hips in the middle photo? Nobody knows. Perhaps nobody cares.

Instead, just consider this. If you should ever get caught drink-driving by a police officer and you’re asked why you were driving so erratically, just hold a bottle of vodka up to their face. Words and explanations are for losers, apparently. What's next?

19. Aston Villa

Ah yes, number 19 - the Aston Villa away kit. Once again, we sit down to feast on a three-course meal of reasoning, opinion and logical thinking and all we get is a few pithy crumbs of languid language about Villa’s kit launch.

What’s wrong with the kit - that’s all I want to know... For heaven’s sake, it’s not illegal to dislike the kit, after all, everyone’s opinion is different. I just want to hear what that opinion is based on. Looks like we’ll never know.

18. Burnley

Next up, the lazy football blogger’s equivalent to the phrase ‘ditto’. At least this time we get a vague hint of a reason why the Burnley away kit’s ranked only 18th out of 20. Apparently it’s something to do with the sponsor logo on the shirt. Too foreign? The wrong colour? Too big?

Hello…? Anybody there?

17. Chelsea

Good grief - what’s this?! Some actual reasoning and justifiable insight? Surely not, but it is… sort of.

The author seems to have some sort of aversion to collars on football shirts (which confirms that he wasn’t born before the fall of the Berlin Wall. If he had been, he’d have died from collar saturation in football. Collara? Sorry...)

He goes on to show his bewilderment that a collar might appear on an away shirt but not the equivalent home shirt. I must admit, I share a more diluted form of this displeasure, but unlike him, I’m at least aware that this sort of thing HAPPENS REGULARLY IN MODERN FOOTBALL.

15. Liverpool

Skipping forward a bit (I realise you’ve got other more important things to be getting on with), we reach number 15 with the Liverpool away shirt. Our scribe’s explanation for this kit’s position in his list? ‘Liverpool’s challenging away kits are sometimes good and sometimes bad.’ A bit like saying ‘sometimes I do a really satisfying poo, but sometimes it’s an unremarkable experience’. Enlightening.

14. Tottenham Hotspur

At number 14, the Spurs away shirt. “It’s just a bit, well, boring isn’t it?” You’re not wrong there, old friend.

He tells us that “Spurs are keeping it simple, maybe too simple” which would be correct, were it not for the diagonal shadow pattern taking up the upper half of the shirt. You have looked at his kit, haven’t you?

10. Watford

The top 10 begins with Watford’s away kit. “2019/20, the year the entire Premier League decided that betting sponsorships were a good idea. Decent strip, though.”

Eighteen words. That’s all you’re getting. Only two - ‘decent strip’ give any clue as to whether the author thinks highly of the kit or not. The other sixteen announce to the world that betting companies are becoming popular on football shirts. WHAT KNOWLEDGE.

6. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Number 6: Wolverhampton Wanderers. “Not the best in the list, but it’s far from the worst.”

And he’s right. It’s not at number 1 on his list, and there are 14 kits below it. Thanks for confirming.

3. Manchester City

And the top three? Man City at number 3, but let me just check... no. Absolutely no explanation about why he likes this kit so much, and once again, he’s not necessarily wrong. He’s just not offering any thought process about the qualities of the outfit. You might as well upload a picture of your Mum with the caption ‘Lovely, isn’t she?’

2. Leicester City

Number 2: Leicester City. Apparently this is the second best shirt in the Premier League because it’s pink. Well, fancy.

Top writing once again, not least because the word count is now up to 37. If that doesn’t clinch it for the judges in the Football Supporter’s Federation Best Football Blogger award category this year, nothing will.

1. Arsenal

And at number 1, it’s the Arsenal away shirt. Apparently that mirrors the choice of best home shirt in the Premier League which the author’s website also gave to Arsenal. At least the shirt has more imagination than the writers of this pap.

“Unbelievable new strips”, we’re told, but yet again we’re not told why. There’s so much that can be said about even the most boring of football shirts; the colour, the fit, the detailing of the collar and cuffs, the main sponsor logo and its suitability to the club, the comparison of this season’s shirt to last season’s, the way that the away shirt complements the home shirt... I could go on, but I think you can see what I’m saying.

What I’ve detailed above is just a sample of text from one such article. In the last few days, GQ magazine has ranked every 2019/20 Premier League kit from best to worst (as has The Sun), TalkSport has done the same for every Championship away kit for 2019/20, CaughtOffside has ranked every kit in English football, FoxSportsFootball has ranked every Premier League away kit for this coming season, and so it goes on and on and on. I’ve not even listed individuals on Twitter doing something similar.

Now I’m not saying every one of those sources is as poor at ranking kits as our example above, but in my experience, they often are. It’s dull content, quickly and easily padded out by pictures and frankly it insults the intelligence of football kit fans who’d like to feel better off for some worthwhile opinions.

So to anyone out there thinking of doing something similar, let me make this emotional plea. If you can’t be bothered to make an effort, don’t bother at all. Anyone can write this tripe - some might say I’ve just proven it - and there’s no shortage of puerile waffle on the web. So please, do your job well or find yourself a better use of your time. Your readers certainly will do if they have to.

3 August 2019