Manchester United are thought to be increasingly “confident” of convincing Dan Ashworth to leave Newcastle to spearhead the INEOS revolution at Old Trafford.
Craig Hope (Daily Mail) believes there is a “chance [Ashworth] could yet leave” the Tyneside club and it is that possibility which has led to the radio silence from Newcastle on the situation.
Hope is the North Eastern correspondent for the Daily Mail and, as such, has a wealth of contacts within St James’ Park. He contends the lack of response – “on or off the record” – is an attempt to “kill the speculation.”
Instead, Hope reveals there is “increase chatter in football circles” of United being optimistic of landing Ashworth as their new sporting director.
As explained in a report by The Peoples Person, Ashworth is likely to be accompanied by Paul Mitchell in a ‘Head of Recruitment’ capacity.
The combination would constitute a drastic “revamp” of how United’s executive structure is composed after a decade of inept profligacy which has seen the club invest over a £1 billion with shockingly little to show for it.
United are thought to hold a “long-standing interest” in Ashworth, having previously offered him a role at the club in February 2022, prior to his relocation to Newcastle from Brighton.
In fact, this offer stemmed from a personal recommendation made by Sir Alex Ferguson to Richard Arnold, the recently-vacated Chief Executive at Old Trafford. Arnold was conducting an internal audit of United, focusing on recruitment, and sought the advice of the great Scot.
Ferguson’s response was as salient as it was succinct: scrutinise John Murtough and hire Ashworth.
Arnold, in a moment of incompetence which should surprise no United fan, offered Ashworth a position reporting to Murtough, rather than as a replacement. Ashworth rejected the role and agreed to join Newcastle shortly after.
The Tyneside club’s success in the transfer market the year after his appointment – which saw Newcastle sign Nick Pope, Sven Botman, Anthony Gordon and Alexander Isak for roughly the same amount Murtough haphazardly sanctioned on Casemiro and Antony – proves Ferguson’s grasp of football is as strong now as it was when he retired.
However, Hope believes Ashworth may be frustrated by the “process driven” structure at St James’ Park, which requires sign-off by the PIF (Newcastle’s owners). The reporter posits whether the level of control and influence Ashworth anticipated when making the journey north has not quite matched up in reality.
Hope concludes Ashworth is likely to be “tempted by an offer from Old Trafford” given United may be willing to give him the “keys to the kingdom.” Given Ashworth’s close friendship with Sir Dave Brailsford, the INEOS Director of Sport, he appears a natural fit for the role.