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    Dan Ashworth: The First Piece in Newcastle’s Jigsaw?

    Brighton technical director Dan Ashworth holds talks with Newcastle.
    File photo Courtesy of The Athletic:

    Excerpts of the following article Dan Ashworth: The First Piece in Newcastle’s Jigsaw by Charlie Watkins (@90PlusFour) from January 31, 2022:

    Since the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and Amanda Staveley completed their takeover of Newcastle United in October 2021 there have been sweeping changes at the club.

    Steve Bruce was sacked just 13 days after the takeover, Managing Director Lee Charnley was dismissed only a few weeks later, Eddie Howe has been appointed as Head Coach, yet Staveley’s search for a top-tier footballing executive is still yet to bear fruit.

    Following the reported failure to convince Ajax Director of Football Marc Overmars to switch allegiances and move over to the North-East, it seems that Staveley and outside consultant Nick Hammond have turned their attention to Brighton’s Dan Ashworth.

    Ashworth’s body of work as Technical Director at West Brom, the FA and Brighton has cemented him as a one of the most desirable executives in the English game and, if appointed, he could be the key to unlocking the Magpie’s undeniable potential.

    After a rather humble playing career, Dan Ashworth began his backroom staff journey at Peterborough, becoming the club’s academy director in 2000 before moving on to Cambridge as their Director of Centre of Excellence. But it was his move to West Brom in March 2004 where Ashworth’s talents truly came to light.

    He began as an assistant to West Brom’s Youth Manager, and future England Under 21 Manager Aidy Boothroyd, before taking over entirely in July.

    Following his three years as Youth Coach and Academy Manager at the Baggies, owner Jeremy Peace decided to offer Ashworth the position of Technical Director in December 2007.

    Sporting Directors were not commonplace in English football at the time, Ashworth has since admitted that initially, he was unsure what the job would entail yet he fitted in seamlessly. 

    Despite Newcastle’s astronomical financial power, their future Technical Director must be someone with experience of the English and European market, with a track record of successful business.

    Ashworth certainly fits this bill, and it was at the Hawthorns where he began to demonstrate his nuance in the transfer market.

    With a net spend of only £15.5 million between 2007 and 2012, Ashworth and his recruitment department built a team that would see West Brom remain in the Premier League for 5 out of his 6 seasons at the club, finishing 11th in the 2010/11 season, going one better the following season, culminating with an 8th place finish in 2012/13, the Baggies’ highest finish in the English top division since 1980.

    Some of West Brom’s most recent Premier League stalwarts were purchased during Ashworth’s time coordinating West Brom’s player recruitment. Chris Brunt and James Morrison who were both recruited during the 07/08 window, ended up making 762 appearances for the club for a combined fee of £5.41 million.

    Martin Olsson, club captain and towering centre back was purchased for a modest £900,000 and made over 200 Premier League appearances, and Yousouff Mulumbu made 211 appearances after his £180,000 move from Paris Saint-Germain.

    Craig Dawson, currently a key member of David Moyes’ West Ham side, made 225 appearances for the Baggies following his £270,000 move from Rochdale in 2011. Ashworth was able to build a squad more than capable of competing in the Premier League whilst maintaining a very modest net spend. 

    His time at West Brom also demonstrated Ashworth’s willingness and ability to adapt the nature of his transfer business to the tactical style of the manager employed.

    During his tenure, West Brom were managed by Tony Mowbray, Roberto Di Matteo, Roy Hodgson and Steve Clarke, all (maybe with the exception of Mowbray) with a similar style of play – a mid-to-low block – rather than the expansive possession-based sides that Ashworth has overseen during his time with England and Brighton. 

    It was this good work that pushed Ashworth onto the radar of the FA, who offered Ashworth the job of Director of Elite Development in September 2012.

    For the rest of the article by Charlie Watkins (@90PlusFour) from January 31, 2022, please go to

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