Connect with us


Is Ashford’s United Arrival Now Simply A Matter Of Time?

With Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the INEOD Group’s partial takeover of Manchester United now coming to fruition and allowing them the opportunity to shape the playing and recruitment side at Old Trafford, many fans wondered what kind of first steps might be taken when Ratcliffe was in a position to do so.

With it being well known that Ratcliffe had already met with numerous supporter groups to sound out their thoughts, wants and desires, ahead of his deal coming to a completion, in the last few days it was confirmed that one of the first major moves to be made would be for Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth and few would have found that listed on The Punters Page.

He is quite clearly a very key target for the changes INEOS intend to make as they look to revolutionise all of our structures and the operating model, and before the close of business on Monday, Newcastle effectively confirmed the club’s approach and they had placed Ashworth on gardening leave after he formally requested to leave.

It could be a very interesting negotiation, as both parties will feel that they have a slight advantage in getting their preferred outcome here. From the Red Devils’ side, he has expressed his wishes to leave, and being on gardening leave means that Newcastle will continue to pay the 52-year-old in full – Newcastle will also feel confident as he is under contract. It is clear how much United want to do a deal for him and they will feel that they can use that to their advantage.

As for Ashworth, he is widely regarded as one of the most effective sporting directors in the English game, and his current deal runs until 2025. he cannot work for anyone else until compensation is agreed upon and his release is granted.

It all ultimately means that United could be looking at a compensation fee of potentially well over £10 million here, and that would certainly be a sign of INEOS’ intentions and strong individual backing for the former West Bromwich Albion wheeler-dealer, but with the club’s position known, they will be wary of overpaying simply for the sake of it and will probably have read Darren Eales statement as them inadvertently tipping their hand a bit.

Their chief executive reacted to the developments by saying:

“We are naturally disappointed that Dan has chosen to leave. However, our exciting journey doesn’t stop and the process to recruit a new sporting director will begin immediately. We thank Dan for his efforts at Newcastle United and we wish him and his family well for the future.”

With them paying his wages in full and already accepting defeat by searching for a new sporting director, United will be gaming the fact that they will also want a quick solution to this.

It is reported that United are expecting the announcement of INEOS’ deal to have gone through at some point this week, and that would then set them up nicely to quite quickly confirm Ashworth’s capture, so he can more speedily get his feet under the table, cast his eyes over the initial plans and structures, and then truly get to work ahead of the club hitting the end of the season and the summer – as plenty of fans will be expecting a very busy couple of months before pre-season returns again.

With his success at West Brom with more significant budget restrictions back then, he also had success as head of England’s youth set-up and is widely credited with their Under 17 and Under 20 World Cup successes. A move to Brighton came next, and he was pivotal in their push up the top-tier table and the appointment of Graham Potter. He served a period of leave with Brighton before taking up his new role at Newcastle back in 2022.

United fans will be happy to largely ignore one criticism that has been levelled at him from his time at St James Park, and many believe he is at least partly responsible for the £55 million signing of Italy midfielder Sandro Tonali from AC Milan. He made just 12 appearances before then being banned for ten months after breaching gambling regulations in Serie A.

There are some things in life that almost no amount of due diligence could throw up when it comes to player signings, so everyone should just let that one pass as his successes far outweigh any perceived failures.

Let us simply see what announcements may arrive this week.