Newcastle United reveal Man Utd transfer fear as Eddie Howe drops major Dan Ashworth hint

Eddie Howe has addressed the links regarding Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth joining Manchester United.
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Eddie Howe wants Dan Ashworth's situation resolved as quickly as possible with Manchester United looking to appoint the Newcastle United sporting director.

Ashworth joined Newcastle in June 2022 after leaving Brighton & Hove Albion. He has worked behind the scenes in a key role at the club as things progressed on the field under Howe.

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In Ashworth's first season at St James' Park, Newcastle qualified for the Champions League. The 52-year-old's impressive track record attracted interest from Manchester United's new minority owners the INEOS Group.

Ashworth has links with INEOS' director of sport Sir Dave Brailsford and is understood to be keen on the role at Old Trafford. But as of Friday morning, Howe claimed no official contact had been made between Man United and Newcastle.

“Nothing [is happening], as far as I'm aware," Howe said. "Obviously it's been in the news a lot and usually with these things, that means something's going to happen.

 “But as we speak now, we've had no contact from anyone.

"It's quite an unusual situation. Usually, there's transfer speculation on players, this is very different. Yes, of course, I think we want whatever happens a quick resolution.

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"It's a difficult one because when you're in that role, I think you need longevity to actually see the fruits of your labour. It's sort of a long-term position and I think the people who have done it best in the Premier League throughout time have always had a period of real stability because change takes a long time at any football club to get those processes exactly how you want them to be."

Howe went on to state that he is in regular contact with Ashworth but the sporting director had not communicated his intent to stay in his role at St James' Park. Newcastle will hold out for as big a compensation fee as possible for the sporting director, who is understood to have a 12-month notice period in his contract.

Dan Ashworth and Eddie Howe. Dan Ashworth and Eddie Howe.
Dan Ashworth and Eddie Howe.

But Howe relayed potential fears that Ashworth being privy to Newcastle's behind-the-scenes workings and transfer plans risks putting them at a disadvantage should he join one of the club's main Premier League rivals. "Yes, and that’s why I say he’s in a position of power, with a lot of intelligence and information," Howe said. "That’s why it’s a slightly unusual situation.

"Concerns [that Manchester United will have access to Newcastle's information] are relevant. "The [recruitment] work never stops. The work never stopped in the build-up to January and it won’t stop in the build-up to the summer. Recruitment is a 365-day job. It never sleeps and the processes are unchanged."

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Newcastle can perhaps take some solace in the fact that arguably their most successful transfer window came prior to Ashworth's arrival. Howe's first transfer window as manager saw the club sign Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes and Dan Burn who have all established themselves as key first-team players after helping the club survive relegation.

And Howe believes the club are well equipped to deal with Ashworth's possible departure.

“Football always moves on very quickly, and I'd say that regarding the manager's position," he continued. Newcastle is a huge football club, it will continue to work in a very efficient way regardless of who is here.

“We've got some very, very capable people here in all departments, so we would carry on very smoothly."