Okay, so it's technically Thursday but I woke up on the morning of Wednesday 01/04/09 (on a sofa very kindly provided by Mr Thomas Matuszewski) and haven't slept since, which in my book makes it a bloody Wednesday...well actually I dozed off for three hours due to a slight hangover but anyhow.
This week saw the launch of the new England football kit which has gained much attention for it's retro styling and it's unveiling during the National anthem. This probably seemed a genius idea in the office, but less so in front of a 90,000 strong crowd made up of a high percentage of Daily Mail and Express readers. This much exposure would usually be welcomed by kit makers Umbro and the Football Association (FA), but reactions have been extremely mixed. Not so good for the pockets of Umbro and the FA.
The YouTube promo video only had a star rating of two stars out of five when I checked on Monday. Though this may be due to the fact that users have expressed their displeasure/confusion over a video which features close-ups of sewing machines carefully constructing the three lions badge as well as tailor's drawings to highlight the "Tailored by England" tagline. The whole kit is on screen for a very brief amount of time and probably features the ONLY existing garments that will actually be tailored in England instead of some warehouse in Bangladesh. This video must have come as quite a shock to a section of the target market who have, in the past, been spoon-fed promotional material with fast paced, over edited, endlessly zooming imagery of celebrity footballers and irrelevant sound effects which sound like they've been taken from a science fiction movie. These are also likely to be the same fans who dislike the new kit and wear sportswear at weekends, regardless of whether they are playing sport or not. "It's all just white.", "It's got no lines on it or nuffin", "It's well plain. Boring!" you hear them cry. Visiting the website of Umbro at www.umbro.com, you can tell that such fans have been very much in the thoughts of the marketing team, with gimmicky titles for the collar, badge and sleeves etc to try and sell the shirt as being "cutting edge" and more importantly, worth £49.99. For example small holes under the sleeve are entitled "The Underarm Ventilation Zone: reducing excess temperature and improves thermal regulation". I strongly recommend a visit to the site. It's quite hilarious.
If the fans are divided about the new kit, then it looks as though the players are too. Do you wear the collar up or down, with a shirt underneath or without? A couple of the players have taken to playing with the collar, or "Motion Control Collar" as Umbro would have you call it, up like Danny from Grease (if Danny from Grease were an overweight English football thug). Wayne Rooney has led the way with this and it will be interesting to see if others - and the nation - follow suit.
For all this though, Umbro and the FA have taken a brave step in producing a kit that is restrained and something approaching "stylish". This is the first kit in years that I might actually consider buying (if it retailed at around £15 perhaps). I would, of course, wear it with the collar down. It's refreshing also that even though Umbro is owned by Nike, England can lay claim to a kit with a hint of individuality at a time when most International teams have a standardised uniform emblazoned with the three stripes of Adidas or a Nike tick, which has just been altered by changing the colours on it to match the colours of the nation's flag.
On the pitch, England now have five wins out of five under their belt in this qualifying campaign and look a much improved side under the guidance of Italian manager Fabio Capello. With this in mind I propose a new England team badge...