Thing of beauty: Get the kit before Nike gets it

Clad in their stylish Umbro shirts, soon to be replaced, Manchester City players Edin Dzeko, ­Carlos Tevez and Samir Nazri celebrate a goal. (Alex Livesey, Getty Images)

Clad in their stylish Umbro shirts, soon to be replaced, Manchester City players Edin Dzeko, ­Carlos Tevez and Samir Nazri celebrate a goal. (Alex Livesey, Getty Images)

Two facts, not related at all: for the longest time blue was my favourite colour and for a long time City was not a competitive team, until Sheikh Mansour bought them. So I didn't mind them much.

But once the Abu Dhabi ruler started shelling out his petroleum-fuelled pounds the team pilfered a clutch of Arsenal players, including Kolo Touré and former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira. In 2011 they won the FA Cup and qualified for the Champions League and last season they won the Premiership title.

Now to their shirts.
If you are into buying football apparel, you'd better get this one, because earlier this year City signed a new deal with Nike, those people who cannot design shirts (just look at the ugly ones  Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton wear). The deal with sportswear company Umbro will lapse at the end of this season.

Available in both long and short sleeves, the cotton helps the athlete's body to breathe. It is also lightweight and tender to the touch. It features a stretching placket (slit in normal speak) and a somewhat smallish black collar, as if in the sewing process there was not enough fabric. What it lacks in terms of size, it more than compensates for, in the words of a football shirt-selling website, "in the stretch panel [that allows for] freedom of movement, making it ideal for casual wear, training and showing your support in the stands on match days".

What else could a shirt vendor say, really? It's perfect.

Umbro, whose base is in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, is an English institution. It also clothes the England team. Because Nike partly owns Umbro, this debate over who clothes whom is perhaps academic. But in many ways Umbro and Manchester City have always been together. Forever.

City are one of the first two teams Umbro clothed. In the FA Cup final of 1934 in which they played Portsmouth (also clothed by Umbro), City was kitted out in Umbro apparel. I guess in City's conquest for world dominion - and also to eclipse their rivals Manchester United as the biggest team in Manchester - they need the clout and the network of the swoosh folk.

Percy Zvomuya

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