Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer has indicated that he is unhappy with Manchester United's current style of play after the German company replaced Nike as the Red Devils' kit sponsors at the start of the 2015-16 term.
United manager Louis van Gaal has been heavily criticised for the ponderous, pragmatic football he has introduced at Old Trafford since taking up the top job at the club in 2014.
It is hardly paying dividends, as United are currently nine points off the top of the Premier League, and although Hainer insisted he is happy with how the fledgling relationship is going, he hinted that Adidas may not be so happy with Van Gaal, per German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung (via James Dickenson in the Express):
Business with Man United is going very well, we sell more shirts than expected. We are satisfied, even if the current playing style of Man United is not exactly what we want to see.
This success confirms again that Man United is not just a football club. With more than 650 million fans globally, it is, without doubt, 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.
Adidas' deal with United is worth a staggering £750 million over 10 years, an undoubtedly worthy outlay from the sportswear giants given United's global appeal.
However, the Red Devils' footballing reputation has taken a hit this season because of the boring style they have been playing.
A 2-1 victory against Swansea on Saturday ended an eight-match winless streak that saw United drop out of the Champions League and off the pace in the Premier League title race.
Old Trafford, previously the most intimidating place to visit in English football, has become the home of the 0-0 draw, per Squawka:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Five of Man United's last Eight home games in all competitions have been 0-0 draws. Boring football. https://t.co/iI9JZhRxd92015-12-28 19:57:19
The Manchester Evening News' Stuart Mathieson believes Van Gaal needs to change his philosophy if he is to keep his job in the long term, as the Old Trafford faithful are fed up with "boring, negative, sideways possession football that just shouts at much of United’s history."
Seemingly, Hainer and Adidas have their concerns as well.
United are in the process of moving away from the fast-paced, breathless football that has garnered them a reputation as one of the most exciting teams to watch in Europe.
The fans are becoming frustrated and will likely see Van Gaal ousted unless the Dutchman can find a compromise between his own pragmatism and United's historic swagger.