Season 2003/04
original illustrations of the kits worn during the season

The Season in brief

Sir Alex Ferguson added five new players to the first team squad at a cost of around £26 million, but only Cristiano Ronaldo, who was given the iconic number 7 shirt, proved a wise investment. The Premiership title battle again involved United and Arsenal, the two sides that had challenged for the previous six titles. United drew first blood, beating the Gunners in a penalty shoot out in the Charity Shield, before the sides drew a blank at Old Trafford in late September.

United remained in devastating form, losing just three games by the turn of the year, and led the table a point clear of Arsenal. The home defeat by Middlesbrough in mid February was the start of a four game run that yielded just two points, meanwhile Arsenal went from strength to strength. They remained unbeaten all season in the League, while United faltered and eventually had to be content with third.

The two clubs met in the F.A. Cup semi final, Paul Scholes scoring United's winner. Second Division Millwall provided little resistance in the Final, goals from Ronaldo and a brace from van Nistelrooy giving United a 3-0 win.

In Europe United were knocked out by a last minute equaliser from Porto after an appalling decision to disallow a perfectly good Paul Scholes goal, which would have put United 2-0 up (and 3-2 on aggregate).

Both the change and third kits were redesigned, with Nike abandoning their earlier policy of following traditional design cues. The replica version of the change kit was initially due to be launched on July 17th but was delayed until September 18th because of quality issues. As a consequence, the release of the replica third kit, scheduled for August 21st, was brought forward to early August.

During pre season United keepers sported two variant kits. Against Juventus Tim Howard wore the change kit with black shorts. Out of favour Fabien Barthez wore a grey V neck jersey, with black shorts and socks, in the game against Stoke, whose black change kit clashed with United's goalkeeper kits.