When Adidas agreed to pay Manchester United £750million over ten years for the right to produce and sell replica kits, they did so under the impression that they were joining up with the world's most exciting and popular football team.
While the Red Devils retain one of the biggest fanbases in world football – 659 million followers, apparently – they are hardly treating them to the best football around. In fact, Old Trafford was recently named the most boring place in England's top four divisions to watch football.
Executives at Adidas have taken notice and it appears they aren't happy with Louis van Gaal's philosophy. Current CEO Herbert Hainer admitted that he has been less than satisfied with the way the team are playing.
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However, he did at least say that on the business side of things, the fledgling partnership is going rather swimmingly, with sales of their retro-style kit going well.
“Business with Man United is going very well, we sell more shirts than expected,” he told the newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung.
“We are satisfied … even if the current playing style of Man United is not exactly what we want to see.”
There must be concern from Adidas that they have made a bad decision. Sales of shirts may be earning their money back at the moment, but they will struggle to keep them high over the course of a decade unless the style of football improves and trophies are won.
At the moment, Van Gaal and his team of flops look more like finishing outside of the top four than winning a Premier League title. That is despite the £250m they have invested on new signings in the last two years.
Manchester United have scored just 15 goals at Old Trafford this season, the lowest out of all 92 league clubs and only a narrow 2-1 victory over Swansea City ended a run of eight games without a win.
Their massive fanbase was built on the success that Sir Alex Ferguson brought. The majority of their supporters support them with the expectation that trophies arrive on a regular basis. If they can't win major honours, Adidas may find their investment turning sour in the coming years.
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