Strip Club–Sky Lounge Edition

Manchester United's Ruud Van Nistelrooy celebrates after scoring against Manchester City during their Premiership soccer match at Old Trafford, Manchester, England Saturday Dec. 13, 2003. (AP Photo/ Phil Noble, PA) ** UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES MAGAZINES OUT INTERNET OUT ONLINE OUT **

A season on from the heartbreak of Wiltord’s goal at Old Trafford, which sealed the title for the Gunners, United started the season slowly, but in the second half the Red Devils put everything in high gear and cruised to their fourth title in five years. Highlighted by Ruud van Nistelrooy scoring an incredible 44 goals in all competitions, the Premier League was their only trophy.  United crashed out in the FA Cup to Arsenal and were throttled by Real Madrid in the Champions League, who outclassed them at the Bernabeu and relied on El Fenomeno’s magic at Old Trafford where he bagged a hat trick and made Barthez look silly.

cr7

The following season, after their first US Tour, Beckham was gone, but CR7 was on the scene, creating havoc on the wings with pace and dazzling footwork.  A sizzling start was not enough for the Red Devils, who slumped in the second half, eventually finishing third behind the Invincibles of Arsenal and Chelsea.  In the Champions League, a mistake by new goalkeeper Tim Howard in the second half at Old Trafford knocked them out of the competition by eventual winners Porto.  Victory in the FA Cup added to the trophy cabinet and would be the last trophy until 2007 Premier League title.  (I don’t count the 2006 Carling Cup.)

manchester_united_2002-2004

In 2002 Manchester United switched kit manufactures.  After years with Umbro, the Red Devils made the jump to Nike, who were upping their soccer presence, picking up major clubs like FCB, Juventus and Inter and the national clubs of Brazil, USA, South Korea and Croatia.  Nike’s first offering was a triple, if I may mix sports metaphors.  Taking the template from the 2002 World Cup, the home kit was the traditional red with black highlights across the collarbone and rib panels.

man-united-02

man-united-02-home-beckhamA friend of mine gave me the jersey, personalized with Beckham’s name and number.  What a treat.  One of my favorite players, I’ve tried to pattern my game on his—solid delivery on set pieces, whipping in crosses into dangerous areas, not playing the greatest defense, and varying my hairstyle from time to time.

David-Beckham

The shirt is lightweight and works perfectly with base layers. I wish I had the authentic jersey with the performance layer, although if I whipped it off like Forlan against Southhampton, I probably wouldn’t be able to put it back on either. Worn with black or white shorts/socks (my preference being the black shorts and black socks), this was a stylish strip and is one of my favorites of the Nike jerseys, probably finishing second only to the 2007-09 version.

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