The best and worst football Christmas jumpers of 2023 – from Man Utd to Newcastle United

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We review the best and worst festive clothing from teams around England.

Given how much time we spend debating the merits of different teams’ kits every year – you know the conversations, the ones where we talk about the distance between the stripes or the size of the sponsor’s logo like we trained under Ralph Lauren or something - it’s surprising how little we look at the equally important sartorial art of the Christmas jumper.

Most teams up and down the country will have tried to extract a few more pennies from their supporters by asking them to don a woolly sweater with a garish, club-themed design on the front, and we’re here to judge them all – from the stylish to the trying-too-hard, from the hideous to the engagingly bonkers. OK, not all of them. We haven’t got all day, and you probably have a few more gifts left to buy. This will take ten minutes, tops, then you can get down to the shops to find something for your poor old mum. She deserves it for everything that she has to put up with from you…

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Manchester City

To give City their due, they are the only team who have attempted to advertise their Christmas range by acknowledging the story of Jesus, without whom we wouldn’t have the holiday at all. It’s a bit less ideal that they’ve done so by having Jack Grealish pretend to be nailed to the cross while wearing a jumper designed to look like a Nineties home kit throwback. Grealish is, in fairness, a very lovely man by all accounts, but he’s not exactly noted for turning water into wine – more like wine into less wine, and some more, please, bartender.

Manchester United

Over on the other side of Manchester, we have to say that United have excelled themselves this year – which is the first time we’ve written that since the end of last season. This is the right kind of simple, a classy little number which will suit the kind of fan who doesn’t really enjoy wearing Christmas jumpers but wants to take one to the office party anyway to show a bit of willing. Actually possible to imagine Bruno Fernandes wearing one of his own volition.

Crystal Palace

This might be the best of the lot – Palace have quietly been churning out some absolutely gorgeous kits over the course of recent seasons and their design philosophy clearly extends to the Christmas range, too. Bold but not garish, eye-catching but not eye-gouging. It’s almost enough to make us wish we were Palace fans – but then again, we have watched them play.

Brentford

Two offerings from the Bees here, and one is a completely serviceable red, black and cream number that we like perfectly well – but the other, the American college-style jacket, deserves scorn. Not because there’s anything especially wrong with that style of top in its own right, but instead it’s the combination of a desperate attempt to be achingly cool and the fact that the only nods to Christmas are a few tree shapes down the arms. It combines two style of clothing and makes both of them worse. Not for us.

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Newcastle United

Now this is just bland. All that Saudi money clearly hasn’t filtered down to the design department, who seem to have chucked this effort out while making the minimum possible effort required to earn their seasonal bonuses. We will grant them that the yellow trim works rather well with the otherwise dreary monochrome palette, but a yellow nose on Rudolph? That’s accurate to neither the song nor the zoological realities of reindeer. You have to get these things right.

Blackburn Rovers

This is the classic Christmas jumper style, with which we can find few arguments. There’s too much going on and every possible winter-related design element has been included from snowflakes to trees to baubles and a tangle of lights (the correct collective noun for Christmas lights, by the way), but it narrowly manages to avoid being too nightmarishly garish or mad. It’s just the right amount of ridiculous.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

A trend we’re not wild about in the world of the footballing Christmas jumper is the need for clubs to try and claim Santa Claus as a fan. Wolves aren’t the only ones guilty of dressing the big man up in their club colours and slapping a badge on him, but it smacks of ego to think that Father Christmas himself would support your side. He’s from Lapland, so he’d probably follow someone from the Finnish Veikkausliiga like KuPS or FC Honka. Carlisle United even have him waving their scarf – trust me, lads, he has no idea where Brunton Park even is.

Sheffield United

We’d sort of love these sweaters if it weren’t for the fact that they’re just a bit too ‘full kit aficionado’, as my editor has just asked me to call it. Accurately-positioned stripes and ‘Noel’ written across the front like a sponsor's logo is a little too on point. It looks like it comes with matching knitted shorts. It looks like John Terry wears the Chelsea version to bed during advent. A nice idea, spoiled by association with the 2009 Dad of the Year.

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Cardiff City

Let’s cross the border into Wales to heap some praise on Cardiff City’s simple but effective 2023 effort. The blue, black and white colour palette just works, and it manages to stay on the right side of jazzy without drifting too far the other way into preppy. You can imagine the really stylish guy in your friend group wearing this, the one who normally sports a roll-neck cream sweater and looks irritatingly good in it. Classy, basically.

Tottenham Hotspur

Last, but by no means least, let’s check in with Spurs, who have two numbers on offer this festive season. The first, helpfully modelled by Guglielmo Vicario, is fine but fundamentally boring. Making Santa a gnome doesn’t make up for the total absence of imagination applied elsewhere. The second, however, is the real difference-maker – is that an actual woolly vest? Are we reclaiming grandfather fashion for the younger generation? Or is it all a one-piece with the sleeves attached – which would be insane and make it feel like something Carlton would wear on Fresh Price of Bel Air? If he was a Spurs fan, anyway. We think we like it, but we really need to see it up close.

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