Adidas chief unimpressed by Manchester United's style of play

BERLIN • In the eyes of kit sponsor adidas, Manchester United have yet to earn their stripes, with the chief executive of the German sportswear giant vocalising its dissatisfaction at the Red Devils' playing style this season.

Adidas would like to see Manchester United playing more attractive football, its chief executive officer Herbert Hainer told German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published on Monday.

The interview could put more pressure on under-fire United manager Louis van Gaal, whose charges have been widely accused of being boring this season.

Even their fans and former players Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand have been critical of the Dutchman's patient style.

United have averaged just 1.2 goals per game this season - their lowest average in Premier League history.

Only 16 league goals have been scored at Old Trafford by United and their opponents this season - the lowest at all 92 Football League grounds.

The United faithful have also already seen six goal-less draws at home this term.

In July 2014, adidas signed a 10-year kit sponsorship deal with the English Premier League club worth £750 million (S$1.56 billion).

"The business side of things is going very well," Hainer told the newspaper in reference to massive shirt sales. "But the current style of play is not exactly what we wanted to see."

Hainer added: "This (commercial) success confirms again that Manchester United is not just a football club, with more than 650 million fans globally. Without doubt, they are one of the world's most supported sports symbols.

"This special club has not only a rich history, but also a reputation for success and the unexpected."

The sportswear company also has kit deals with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Winners of the Champions League in 2008 and 1999 and its predecessor the European Cup in 1968, United invested heavily in the last close season bringing France teenager Anthony Martial, Dutchman Memphis Depay and Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger into their squad.

But United currently sit outside the Premier League top four, knocked out of the Champions League and were even eliminated from the English League Cup.

Still, there was some good news yesterday in an otherwise below-par season for United captain Wayne Rooney, who has scored just three league goals this campaign.

The striker has been voted England's Player of the Year for the fourth time after breaking his country's scoring record, the Football Association announced. The 30-year-old took his England tally to 51 goals, breaking Bobby Charlton's longstanding record of 49.

He was also the top scorer with seven goals as Roy Hodgson's side qualified for Euro 2016 with a perfect record of 10 wins.

Rooney, England's captain, received 37 per cent of the votes in a poll of England Supporters Club members.

He previously won the award in 2008, 2009 and 2014.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2016, with the headline 'Adidas chief unimpressed by Manchester United's style of play'. Print Edition | Subscribe