Barcelona surrendered a late advantage and fell to a late Arsenal comeback last week in the clubs’ Champions League encounter at the Emirates Stadium, and it would be rather simplistic to blame the defeat on the visitors’ choice of clothing. Right? Doing his finest Paul Lukas impersonation, the Guardian’s Rob Bagchi successfully argues otherwise.
Barcelona were hogging possession and formulating their patterns in shirts the manufacturer describes as “cool mint”. Over the past 30 years Barça have almost been through the rainbow with their away kit, from the primrose of the Catalan flag, to orange, vibrant salmon pink, silver, gold, navy, acid-house-meets-lollipop-man fluorescent sulphur and several variations of the turquoisey teal to which they have reverted this season. Worn with matching thermal polo neck undershirts, the kit made Xavi and co look like pastel-clad versions of those aficionados of the turtle-neck, André Previn and Harold Pinter, on the Parkinson show circa 1975. Vertical, diagonal and now horizontal blaugrana sashes have been tried to keep the iconic first-choice colours uppermost in people’s minds in the absence of a clash, like at the Emirates, where the usual kit would have sufficed.
Abuses of the colour palette have been going on for ages and although some can claim inspiration from a particular club’s history – Tottenham in chocolate brown, Everton in pink, Manchester United in green and gold – others such as Aston Villa’s disgusting green, black and red stripes from 15 years ago or Arsenal’s green with blue sleeves from a decade earlier were put together at the designer’s whim.
With apologies to Plymouth and Yeovil fans, there is a common denominator here. Green simply does not work for club football kits unless a historical association buys it some leeway. The purely commercial, such as Liverpool’s Carlsberg can and Adidas homages that began under Graeme Souness and were amended if not improved over the next 20 years, never manage to look anything other than faddish.