Eddie Howe: No Manchester United Dan Ashworth contact; Newcastle would ‘carry on smoothly’

Eddie Howe says Newcastle United have not received an official approach from Manchester United for sporting director Dan Ashworth, but backed the club to “carry on smoothly” if he were to depart.

The Athletic reported on Wednesday Ashworth had informed Newcastle of Manchester United’s approach but formal contact was yet to take place.

The Old Trafford club have made him their top target for their sporting director role, and the 52-year-old is said to be open to the opportunity.

Asked if Ashworth had said he wanted to stay at Newcastle this week, Howe replied: “No.”

“Nothing, as far as I’m aware,” he added when asked if Newcastle had received an approach from Manchester United. “Obviously it’s been in the news a lot and usually with these things that means something is going to happen but, as we speak now, we’ve had no contact.”

Ashworth is coming up to two years in the post, having joined Newcastle United after resigning from his post as technical director at Brighton & Hove Albion in February 2022, then serving three months of gardening leave. Howe stressed “longevity” was key to success in the sporting director role.

Howe had already been installed as Newcastle manager in November 2021, prior to Ashworth’s appointment. He was given a new, long-term contract in the summer of 2022, which Ashworth ratified.

When asked if Ashworth leaving would represent a blow to the club, the Newcastle manager replied: “Football always moves on very quickly and I’d say that regarding a manager’s position. Newcastle is a huge football club, it’ll continue to work in a very efficient way regardless of who is here. We have very capable people in all departments. We’d carry on smoothly.”

He continued: “It’s a difficult one because when you’re in that role, you need longevity to see the fruits of your labour. It’s a long-term position. The people who have done it best in the Premier League have done it over a long period of time. Change takes time. Dan has had a relatively short period of time. Let’s see what happens, as we sit here nothing has happened.”

Manchester United’s interest is complicated by Ashworth being under contract on Tyneside and that makes it likely they would need to pay significant compensation to secure his services.

“We’re very protective of what’s ours,” Howe said. “Whether that’s players or staff. If people do eventually move on to other clubs, there’s a process to go through before that’s a reality.”

Ashworth has generated a strong reputation in areas such as player recruitment and the building of high-performance structures, which would be important remits if a move to Manchester United materialises.

Howe said with recruitment a “365-day job”, Ashworth was in an “unusual situation” given the insight he has to sensitive information regarding the club’s future transfer plans.

“The biggest compliment I can give to Dan is when you’re in a position of power the natural thing to do is to try and change everything with a big ego,” he continued. “He’s let the same structures exist and survive and we’re still working in the way we did during the first window. I can only compliment him on that. Our recruitment has been good and I include the summer window in that. I think those deals will come good for the football club.

“He’s in a position of power and has a lot of intelligence and information so it’s an unusual situation.”


Dan Ashworth – the sporting director Manchester United want to lure from Newcastle

(Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

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