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Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth responds to Manchester United link under Sir Jim Ratcliffe



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Credit: Newcastle United

Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth has played down rumours of a move to Manchester United under Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Ashworth, 52, joined the Geordie club from Brighton & Hove Albion in February 2022 following the club’s Saudi Arabian takeover.

He has since been the key man behind the revolutionary changes at St James’ Park in terms of the squad personnel, and that has provided Eddie Howe with the platform to excel with his players on the pitch.

Meanwhile, at Old Trafford, there have been serious issues in terms of transfer activity. After it appeared the club were turning in the right direction by replacing Ed Woodward and then adding a sporting director to their ranks, much has changed.

John Murtough was appointed in the role but lacked experience and there has since been many times where it appeared the manager Erik ten Hag had too much power in terms of transfer strategy.

However, with Sir Jim Ratcliffe set to take control of the footballing department as part of his 25 per cent stake investment into Manchester United, the British billionaire is looking at moving transfer power away from Ten Hag and also replacing Murtough with a proven sporting director.

Reports from the Manchester Evening News have stated that Ashworth is one sporting director admired by Ratcliffe, alongside former Monaco sporting director Paul Mitchell.

Former United captain Gary Neville also recently suggested that the Newcastle man is someone who the Reds could use at their club.

“I literally saw Gary when walking into the directors’ box and he was going down the tunnel,” Ashworth told The Mirror when asked about that praise. “I shouted, ‘Hello’ and that was it. I didn’t have a conversation with Gary.

“I know him and Phil [Neville] from their England days. He’s written some very kind things and thank you, Gary.”

Then pressed about the links to a potential United move, Ashworth responded: “Same situation as Eddie [Howe], I think. I’m really happy, 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.”

Further asked if he had a release clause in his contract in the event of a bigger club coming in, he laughed: “No! Not that I’m aware of anyway.”

It would be difficult to prise a player, manager, or sporting director away from Newcastle right now, who are in the Champions League and playing brilliant football.

Ashworth reaffirmed his ambitions at Newcastle as he aims to rival the top clubs across Europe, saying: “The next number of years is to fight and get into the top six on a regular basis and compete for trophies. Of course, we want to be in the Champions League as much as we can over the coming years but it’s incredibly difficult.

“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.

“Whether that’s making improvements to the training ground, we’ve got to keep pushing. If you start to stand still in professional sport, you’re stuffed. It’s about keep pushing, keep pushing, keep driving.”