Football: Adidas wants style from Man United, even as van Gaal claims pressure has eased

Adidas chief executive officer Herbert Hainer.
Adidas chief executive officer Herbert Hainer. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

BERLIN (AFP/REUTERS) - German sportswear giant adidas would like to see Manchester United playing more attractive football, 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.

In July 2014, adidas signed a 10-year kit sponsorship deal with the English Premier League club worth £750 million (S$1.57 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."

The sportswear company also has kit deals with Spanish giants Real Madrid and German powerhouses 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 Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger into their squad.

Van Gaal, meanwhile, claims that their 2-1 Premier League win over relegation-threatened Swansea City on Saturday eased the pressure on their "angry" players.

Saturday's win ended United's eight-game winless run in all competitions. But they currently sit outside the Premier League top four, have been knocked out of the Champions League and were even eliminated from the English League Cup.

"I shall think that now the pressure is lowering, the performance shall be better every week. But that it also dependable on whether or not we score goals," the Dutchman told British media.

"And when we score goals and we create always chances, then it is a big difference because a lot of journalists are saying the second half was better. I can say that it was not better.

"It is because they are very angry that we have lost so many games in a row. They are also not used to that, I'm not used to that, losing four matches in a row."

United are currently fifth in the league after 20 games, but find themselves nine points behind leaders Arsenal and defender Chris Smalling said they cannot afford to drop anymore points in their bid to win title for the first time since 2013.

"December was a poor month and it's a great feeling to get that win. I think, especially in the last couple of games, we've fought hard and we need to kick on like we did today," Smalling told the club website (www.manutd.com).

"As players, we knew we had to stop that run and get on the front foot. It was a good start to the year and we can't afford any more slip-ups now, so we need to make sure we keep playing like this."