The INEOS revolution looks set to hit its first hurdle with the number one target for the Sporting Director role – Dan Ashworth – looking set to remain at current club Newcastle.
With Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority stake ownership bid for Manchester United awaiting ratification from the Premier League, his INEOS sporting team are yet to take full control of the football operation at Old Trafford.
When approval is granted, expected to be in February, United’s new co-owner is expected to initiate a series of meaningful changes, at all levels of the club.
Sir Dave Brailsford – the INEOS Director of Sport – is currently conducting a comprehensive audit of the processes and structures at Old Trafford in this interim period. His recommendations will form the basis of these changes.
One such example has already happened.
The highly-rated Omar Berrada was poached from local rivals Manchester City to be United’s new chief executive. It’s a move which football insiders have described as a “game-changer” while City officials were believed to be “shocked” by their executive’s departure.
The move was underpinned by a quiet efficiency – the type rarely seen at Old Trafford under the Glazers. It’s thought to be evidence of an INEOS-led decision, designed to “put football and performance” back at the heart of the club’s ambitions.
Brailsford has earmarked a sporting director and a recruitment specialist as the next two targets after Berrada. Owing to his long-standing relationship with Ashworth, the INEOS director is believed to have made the Newcastle man his number-one target for the former.
Which is why The Athletic’s update that Ashworth looks set to stay at St James’ Park will likely prove the first hurdle for INEOS to overcome.
Laurie Whitwell reveals Ashworth “recently gave colleagues at Newcastle United the impression he will continue in his role at St James’ Park.” The north-eastern club are believed to be “confident” their sporting director will remain in place.
This confirms earlier reports by The Peoples Person which indicated United would struggle to convince Ashworth to join their project in the role currently being offered. It seems Brailsford may have to keep searching for the club’s new sporting director as Newcastle’s appears content where he is.
The capture of Berrada proved INEOS have zero qualms about poaching key figures from rival clubs, however. And Brailsford is thought to be a stubborn operator – he will not take a no lightly, especially from his first-choice target. This remains a story to keep a close eye on.