Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer has voiced his displeasure at the style of play Manchester United have adopted this season despite the club’s brand generating record sales for his business.
England’s most successful football club ended a run of eight matches without a victory at the weekend with a 2-1 win over Swansea. And it would appear that the more defensive style of the team is not what Adidas signed up for when it agreed to shell out £750m to replace Nike as its kit sponsor last summer.
“Business with Man United is going very well, we sell more shirts than expected,” said Hainer in an interview with German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. “We are satisfied….even if the current playing style of Man United is not exactly what we want to see.”
While Hainer’s comments echo those made by many pundits already this season, his decision to go public with his thoughts are somewhat surprising given the almost immediate impact the club has had on Adidas' commercial fortunes. The company labelled its launch of the kit last August the most successful in the brand and club’s history, with global retailers reporting a 200 per cent rise in day one sales compared to 2014’s launch.
Adidas spent the bulk of 2015 introducing its revamped football strategy off the back of slowing sales in Western Europe, where rival Nike is outpacing it. Manchester United is a major part of its turnaround plan and consequently the style of the team’s play factors into how premium the partnership is viewed by fans and the way it markets it and the players.