The Newcastle United meetings which reveal Dan Ashworth's exciting early agenda
Newcastle United’s first summer signing could well prove to be the most important.
As fans wait on the club’s summer acquisitions, Dan Ashworth is getting his feet under the table following his appointment as sporting director.
Newcastle had been keen to get Ashworth, on gardening leave at Brighton and Hove Albion, in position ahead of what’s expected to be a busy summer at the club as it looks to break into the Premier League’s top 10.
United’s last director of football was Joe Kinnear, who had a short, and controversial, spell in the role in the 2013/14 season.
"What I'm saying is that I've got my finger in the pie halfway around the world,” Kinnear told the Gazette at the time.
"There's no-one I can't pick the phone up to in sports and introduce myself to and talk to them about football or any situation."
Kinnear’s time at Newcastle was chaotic. Ashworth will bring order and structure to a club which was hollowed out during Mike Ashley’s time as owner.
Ashworth is also well connected, but the relationships he develops with his new colleagues inside the club will be as important as those he has with people elsewhere.
At Brighton, Ashworth’s biggest legacy is seen as the structures he put in place, not the signings that came in during his time as the club’s technical director.
Ashworth sees himself as being at the hub of a wheel, with each spoke representing a different area or division of the club.
“It’s very similar to my role as technical director at my previous employment,” said Ashworth, who also had a spell at the Football Association earlier in his career.
“I always describe it as sitting in the middle of the wheel. My job’s to sit in the middle of the wheel and connect the different departments of the club and align everything as best as I possibly can.
“There’s Eddie (Howe) from a men’s first team point of view, Shola (Ameobi) from player loans, and Steve Harper, who I’m meeting on Thursday from an academy perspective. Also (head of recruitment) Steve Nickson, the doc (Paul Catterson) from a medical point of view.
“It’s to try and make sure there is a cohesive way of working and have one plan to try and support the needs of the football club going forward.
"The women’s team as well, that was something I took on at the FA and Brighton.”
Co-owner Amanda Staveley is keen to Newcastle United Women progress, and Ashworth, importantly, played a big role in developing the women’s team at Brighton, who now play in the Women’s Super League.
Ashworth, clearly, has a busy diary in the coming days, but his meetings will head coach Eddie Howe and Steve Nickson will be the most pressing.
“We’re about to start a transfer window, so there will be a lot of things on the to-do list with players in and out, things Eddie will want to do for the first-team squad,” said Ashworth.
“The two most important things for me at the moment are to try and understand and get to know all the staff, how the club functions and the culture here, and then, short-term, help drive the transfer window for the next three months.”
Ashworth, clearly, is now at the wheel.