Why Sir Alex Ferguson was right to make Manchester United change their kit away to Southampton

In April 1996, Manchester United travelled to Southampton having won 11 of their previous 12 games to overhaul Newcastle United at the top of the Premier League table.

At half time, the unthinkable happened and Manchester United were losing 3-0 and Fergie famously made the players get changed out of their grey kit.

Speaking on the Quickly Kevin podcast, Gary Neville revealed that Fergie hated the 1996 Manchester United grey kit and had resisted the team wearing it ahead up until the Southampton game.

There was some science to it.  Sir Alex employed a professor of vision from Liverpool called Gail Stephenson.

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In fact when Gail past away in 2015 Ed Woodward said;

Gail was one of the leading vision scientists in the world. She understood the benefits that her specialism could bring to sport and persuaded Sir Alex Ferguson to make Manchester United the pioneers in that area.  For nearly 20 years, she has helped the players improve their performances and provided world-class advice in a kind and sympathetic manner.

Her point of view was the match sharpness was nothing to do with physical ability.  It was all mental awareness.  When players were injured you’d stop using eye muscles that give them the awareness so she’d give the Manchester United players exercises.

She said there are colours that stand out with a crowd behind you.  She’d said the grey shirts aren’t right as the players are harder to see with a crowd behind them.

Gail was proved right. Wearing the grey shirts Manchester United went 3-0 down to Southampton through goals from the big 3.  Ken Monkou, Neil Shipperley and Matt Le Tissier.

Fergie was the master of deflection so when we made mistakes the grey shirts were an ideal for him.

Give the interview with Gary Neville a listen here.

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mjmaxwell

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