Every Man Utd Third Kit of the Premier League Era - Ranked

Sep 11, 2020, 2:45 PM GMT+1
Manchester United have launched their 17th different third kit in the Premier League
Manchester United have launched their 17th different third kit in the Premier League | Getty Images/Getty Images

Manchester United released their new third shirt for the 2020/21 season this week, a bold black and white design that seeks to put a modern twist on traditional stripes.

The striking jersey is also inspired by a rarely talked about history of stripes in United kits, from those worn in the early 20th century more than 100 years ago, to the more subtle black stripes that featured on several white away jerseys in the 1970s and 1980s.

Bruno Fernandes in the 2020/21 Man Utd third shirt
Bruno Fernandes in the 2020/21 Man Utd third shirt | adidas

This season's effort is the 17th different third kit that United have launched in the Premier League era. Here's a closer look back at the previous 16, ranked from worst to best...

*this list only includes kits originally released as ‘third’, and not away kits that subsequently became designated third strips in later seasons

16. All-Blue w/Red (2014/15)

Angel Di Maria, Wayne Rooney
Angel Di Maria & Wayne Rooney in 2014 | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Blue has long been a popular away colour for United, tied into club history because of the all-blue strip worn in the 1968 European Cup final. But the 2014/15 version didn’t work, with something abut the dark back, buttons and red trim not quite right.

15. Trinity Tribute (2017/18)

Anthony Martial
United's 2017/18 third shirt paid tribute to Law, Best and Charlton | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

United’s third shirt in 2017/18 was the result of a fan competition and paid tribute to the club’s iconic ‘Trinity’ – Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law – who are immortalised in statue form outside Old Trafford. In reality, it promised much more than it delivered.

14. Navy Blue w/Red (2000/01)

PSV v Man Utd
Ryan Giggs & David Beckham vs PSV Eindhoven in 2000 | Graham Chadwick/Getty Images

United didn’t much wear their navy blue third kit in 2000/01, which used a colour scheme that could easily have doubled as a France international strip thanks to the red socks. It is most often seen in clips of Thierry Henry’s famous flick and volley in a game against Arsenal.

13. White & Red/Black Hoops (2003 - 2005)

Ryan Giggs celebrates 2nd goal
Ryan Giggs scored twice at Anfield in 2003 | Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Horizontal black and red pinstripes added a little bit of subtle intrigue to the otherwise white third shirt debuted in 2003, and was occasionally used until 2005. Black was United’s primary away colour at that time and there wasn’t much call to wear this.

12. All-Blue w/Black (1997 - 1998)

Andy Cole
Andy Cole wearing blue against Feyenoord in 1997 | Phil Cole/Getty Images

United didn’t actually launch this all-blue third kit with black and white trim until the latter stages of the 1996/97 season, having actually worn an older third kit earlier in the campaign. It is one of the handful of United shirts that has used a central badge.

11. White w/Navy Blue (1999/00)

Bradford v Man Utd
This shirt was originally a third shirt in 1999/00 when Sharp was sponsor | Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

United’s away and third kits in the 1999/00 season marked the club’s first foray into monochrome badges, which have become a common feature of change stripes over the last five years. This shirt was actually upgraded to an away kit in 2000/01, when it also featured a different sponsor.

10. Navy Blue w/Gold (2018/19)

Romelu Lukaku
United 2018/19 third shirt was made from recycled ocean plastic | Visionhaus/Getty Images

The biggest selling point of United’s third kit in 2018/19 was its environmental angle. It was part of a wider collaboration between adidas and Parley For The Oceans that saw a number of clubs launch third jerseys made from recycled ocean plastic.

9. White w/Grey (2016/17)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on his Premier League debut in this shirt | Stu Forster/Getty Images

It’s not an all-time classic by any stretch of the imagination, but the white third shirt with grey trim and detail was an attractive look when it was worn in 2016/17. It featured the honeycomb pattern that was also present on that season’s red home shirt.

8. All-Blue w/Silver (2002/03)

Gary Neville of Manchester United
Gary Neville playing United's 2002/03 all-blue kit | Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

A classic all-blue but with silver branding and trim, United’s 2002/03 looked extra special in European games when it also featured silver numbers and lettering. It particularly evokes memories of a tense 2-2 draw with Arsenal towards the end of the campaign.

7. Gold Centenary (2001/02)

Paul Scholes
United launched a gold centenary third kit in 2001 | ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

Gold was a bold choice in 2001/02, used to celebrate 100 years of ‘Manchester United’ following the 1902 name change from Newton Heath. It wasn’t worn very often and isn’t attached to fond memories on the pitch, but it looked the part all the same.

6. All-Black w/Red (2015/16)

Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League
United's third kit in 2015/16 was vintage adidas | Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

United switched kit suppliers to adidas in 2015 and the German company really went to town on the retro feel, with the third shirt incorporating a classic adidas graphic into the black base colour. The only reason it isn’t higher on this list if the distracting white fade on the shorts.

5. Blue/White Stripes (1994 - 1996)

Alex Ferguson, Eric Cantona
United wore a rare striped shirt between 1994 and 1996 | Ben Radford/Getty Images

There are iconic moments, good and bad, attached to the blue and white striped third kit of the mid-1990s. United won the Premier League title in it on the final day of the 1995/96 campaign, while they changed into it halfway through a game against Southampton that season.

4. Black w/Green (1998/99)

David Beckham
David Beckham in United's black third kit in 1998 | Getty Images/Getty Images

United’s black change stripes, which have been commonplace since the early 1990s, have typically had red or white trim. But in 1998/99, the attractive black third shirt used a shade of neon green to give it a fresh and rather different look.

3. All-Black w/Rose Graphic (2019/20)

Mason Greenwood
United's 2019/20 third was a tribute to the 1909 FA Cup final | UEFA - Handout/Getty Images

With artistic graphics all the rage in recent years, United’s 2019/20 black third shirt was quite stunning. The all-over rose design was in reference to the club’s 1909 FA Cup shirt, which featured a Manchester rose as the club crest.

2. Green/Gold Halves (1992 - 1994)

Bryan Robson in Newton Heath-style green & gold | Getty Images/Getty Images

United kicked off the Premier League with the mother of all throwback kits, long before ‘throwback’ was even a thing. The 19th century green and gold halves of Newton Heath were reimagined by Umbro and the launch was also a clever replica of early team photos.

1. All-Blue w/White (2008/09)

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo scored against Arsenal in 2009 | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The all-blue third kit launched for the 2008/09 season to celebrate the 40th anniversary of United’s maiden European Cup triumph in 1968 was just supremely classy. There wasn’t a great deal to it in terms of design flair, but it didn’t need to be anything more and just looked incredible.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!