If there is one thing that will get the attention of Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward it is when a major sponsor publicly criticizes how the team is playing.
Woodward built the commercial side of Manchester United into the dominant force it is today and he will certainly have taken notice of the comments by Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer criticizing the style of play being played by Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal.
Adidas signed a 10-year £750m agreement to take over from Nike as United’s official kit supplier in August, the biggest deal of it’s kind in Europe. And the new shirt broke sales records when it was released ahead of the new season.
In an interview with German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, Adidas chief executive Hainer revealed the company has been delighted with the results of the tie-up.
But he admitted Van Gaal’s style of football, branded ‘boring’ by former midfielder Paul Scholes as United have struggled for goals this season, is a concern.
“This success confirms again that Manchester United is not just a football club” Hainer said.
“With more than 650 million fans globally it is one of the world’s most supported sports clubs.
“This special club has not only a rich history but also a reputation for success. Business with Manchester United is going very well, we have sold more shirts than expected.
“We are satisfied, even if the current playing style is not exactly what we want to see.”
Pressure from fans is one thing. But when your top sponsors start to complain about how you are playing, that is something than Woodward cannot ignore.
United finally ended their eight match winless streak with a victory against Swansea last weekend, and up next for the Red Devils is an FA Cup tie against Sheffield United on Saturday.