Alex Ferguson may actually have had a point about grey strips making Manchester United players invisible – Scotsman comment

Those of us who are less skilled at football than we would like to be sometimes get creative when attempting to explain why a simple pass went astray or the ball was, for no apparent reason, booted out of play.

While Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson once claimed his players' grey strips were making it hard for them to see each other (Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
While Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson once claimed his players' grey strips were making it hard for them to see each other (Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

But no one expects those playing at the very top of the game to start joining in. This is why Alex Ferguson’s insistence that his Manchester United players change out of a grey strip at half-time during a 1996 match against Southampton – because they were allegedly having problems seeing each other – remains a talking point to this day.

However, a new study suggests Ferguson may have had a point – it’s worth noting that United were losing 3-0 at half-time but ‘won’ the second half 1-0 – and that kit colours can make a real difference.

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Psychologists at York University found that if players from the opposing teams have the same colours in their kits, it can take twice as long for players to find a teammate than when the strips are completely different. They are also looking into whether strips that blend into the background, like Manchester United’s grey, cause a similar problem.

Given the background is normally made up of fans, the most dedicated supporters may therefore decide to help their team by not wearing club colours – or, perhaps, the away kit at home games, and vice versa.

And will stewards and others to be found on the touchline need to have a ‘change strip’ to avoid clashes? High-viz vests in luminous orange as well as yellow?

We await further insights into this matter with interest.

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