Gary Neville’s pleas for Dan Ashworth to come in and save Manchester United as the club’s sporting director have failed to work as the Newcastle chief insists he’s going nowhere at St James’ Park. It’s been a wild ride for Newcastle fans ever since their Saudi Arabia-backed owners took over the club two years ago.
Newcastle became the richest club in European football overnight and set upon their aims of disrupting English football. They made a huge statement in 2022 by stealing Ashworth, the man seen largely responsible for Brighton’s impressive recruitment strategy.
He’s continued that good work at Newcastle with Eddie Howe’s side benefitting from smart moves in the transfer market. Neville briefly met Ashworth last week during United’s dismal defeat to Newcastle in the FA Cup and was blown away, calling on his former club to bring in someone similar.
But Ashworth has ‘laughed off’ Neville’s suggestion, according to the Telegraph, insisting he has no plans to leave his role at Newcastle any time soon.
“I’m really happy,” he said. “It’s a brilliant city, club and project. I’m thoroughly engaged in throwing myself into all of those things and really enjoying the challenge.”
Part of that challenge for Newcastle is to disrupt the ‘Big Six’ in the Premier League having finished inside the top four last season. He added: “We’ve all got to try and work together to try and get ourselves into a situation where not only are we a top six club on the pitch, but also a top six club off the pitch. That gives us more ammunition in order to be able to compete on the pitch.
“Complacency is a dangerous thing, isn’t it? Certainly there’s no complacency here. We want to keep striving and keep pushing. Whether that’s with our academy from under-9s. Whether that’s the women’s first-team. Whether that’s improving the provision and psychology and player care around the team.”
United have refused to follow the trend in recent years of teams bringing in sporting directors to oversee football matters. They’ve argued in the past that they have several different people who work together to fill the role of a sporting director.
Ed Woodward previously held power over transfers and senior appointments before he left the club with Richard Arnold replacing him in 2022. But United have taken on heavy criticism for not bringing in someone more accustomed to the role of a sporting director.
A host of some of the brightest football minds have been linked to Old Trafford in the past, but the Glazers have opted against making such an appointment. Ashworth is clearly off limits for United now in another transfer guru the club has missed out on.