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Manchester City

 By David Mooney

Ranking Manchester City's worst kits

Manchester City's latest kits are getting their justified praise but the club hasn't always made the right call in picking their uniforms.

Following the switch from Umbro to Nike as Manchester City's kit manufacturers, Blues fans were concerned that their colours might not live up to recent standards. In their first year in charge, Nike produced a solid -- if unspectacular -- array of shirts for Manuel Pellegrini's men. The home effort was simple, though opinion was divided over the shield around the badge, while the two-tone black away affair was distinctly average and the white third kit was a high-quality design.

But for 2014-15, the manufacturer has upped its game. The home shirt has stayed pretty similar to the year before, but now with added navy blue trim for a touch of subtlety. However, it's the away colours that have fans impressed -- as the new dark blue-to-light blue panels (which fade into each other when scrunched up) were unveiled. "It'll look even better with the gold badges on the sleeves," James Milner commented.

The truth is, though, City fans have been spoiled in recent years with some of the best kits in the club's history. So, in preparation for a new year of stylish outfits, here's a look back at some of the worst the club's players have performed in.

1996-97 Away Kit, Umbro

Burgundy is one of the colours that's been done well on City away kits in the past, while an all-white kit has looked stylish too, so it was something of a gamble when Umbro went for a mixture of the two. The kit manufacturer decided that it should fade to white on the right-hand side and that the top right corner should be that same colour, too. That's while the bottom left corner was a burgundy-style triangle with a white stripe. Throw in a yellow sponsor and a badge surrounded by a dark blue shield, positioned in the centre of the shirt, and this really was a kit to forget.

1994-96 Away Kit, Umbro

It's difficult to go wrong with red and black stripes as an away kit for Manchester City, but boy did Umbro have a damn good go at making a hash of it in 1994. The stripes were too thin, the black bar surrounding the sponsor made it look like a bumper sticker had been plastered across the squad's chests, while there was grey mesh across the upper half of the shirt for no discernable reason.

Worse, that grey crisscross pattern that covered the stripes at the top continued on its own where the sleeves joined the chest. It's little wonder the Blues ended up severely underperforming in those years, given the players could easily have been distracted by everything that was going on there.

2008-09 Third Kit, Le Coq Sportif

Manchester City's bright orange third kit was quite a distraction for opposing teams.

It's very rare that you'll ever come across a team playing in orange and think, "that's a lovely kit, I'll have to get myself one of them."

Strikingly bright, Le Coq Sportif tried to change that line of thinking with the Manchester City third kit for Mark Hughes' only full season in charge of the club. The club's performances on the road were largely terrible, so it comes as no surprise that there were no domestic victories seen in the too-bright monstrosity -- its Premier League highlight surely being the 2-1 defeat at The Hawthorns (mainly due to a backheel goal by Felipe Caicedo) that saw the Blues in the bottom three at Christmas.

Still, it had European success, being as it was the outfit the club wore in beating Schalke -- the German side's players clearly distracted by the brightness.

The only thing that kit had going for it was that it was ditched after one season.

2000-02 Away Kit, Le Coq Sportif

In 1999, Manchester City won the Division Two Play-Off Final in spectacular fashion, wearing a mixture of navy blue and highlighter yellow. Were it not for that game, that kit would have gone down in the annals of history as a bad one, but by proxy of being the kit the team wore when they saved themselves from oblivion, it's held fondly in the fans' memories.

When City signed up with Le Coq Sportif the following season, the kit had to be retired -- though the Kappa design was attempted to be incorporated into the 2000-01 Premier League away shirt. A single yellow stripe sat a few inches from a single navy stripe down the centre of the top ... while the rest of it was grey, with tiny white pinstripes. Aligning the badge and the manufacturer name centrally was just the icing on the cake.

A very stale, sickly cake.

1997-99 Home Kit, Kappa

Manchester City plays in sky blue. That's the home kit colour and it's the colour that was dared to be changed in the late '90s, as Kappa debuted laser blue. With the relaunch of the badge to incorporate (for some reason) an eagle and three stars, the club changed their home colours, too -- presumably to mark a brand-new era of defeat and disappointment.

Perhaps it's because it will be forever synonymous with failure, given the Blues endured their lowest ever point while wearing this kit, but it's not one that screamed style or sophistication -- instead, it was a bit more Sports Direct 60 percent off sale.

The Kappa logo repeated again and again down the sleeves was also one of the standout features of the home shirt, which will have ensured that it's seared into the memories of the City faithful for decades to come.

David Mooney

David Mooney is a writer and a radio journalist based in Manchester. He is currently writing for ESPN FC and has written three books on Manchester City. He is also the news editor on 104.9 Imagine FM and hosts the BlueMoon Podcast. You can follow him on twitter: @DavidMooney