Yesterday, Dan Ashworth officially kick-started his Newcastle career as the new Sporting Director. This comes following previous jobs as technical director at Brighton & Hove Albion, director of elite development at the Football Association (FA) and sporting and technical director at West Bromwich Albion.
Ashworth is known for implementing “England’s DNA” to help create winning senior teams in men’s and women’s games.
However, the title ‘Sporting Director’ is thrown around a lot in professional football and many don’t quite understand what the main roles and responsibilities are, so, what will Dan Ashworth actually be doing as Newcastle United’s Sporting Director?
First of all, as outlined on the club’s official website, “Ashworth will be responsible for the club’s overarching sporting strategy, football development and recruitment at all age levels, and will work closely with head coach Eddie Howe, academy manager Steve Harper and head of recruitment Steve Nickson.” So, this gives us a general idea of how important Ashworth’s role will be and the types of people that he will be working around.
When asked about his role at Brighton in an interview with BT Sport two years ago, Ashworth said, “A technical director’s role is always best described as looking after the interests of the club in a medium to long-term.”
He continued, “There are six things that come into me, the men’s first team, women’s first team, player recruitment, the academy, medical and sport science and the player loan department.” It is clear that the role of a Sporting Director is one of the most vital when it comes to the progression of any professional football club from the bottom right up to the top.
“All of those [six things] are medium to long term such as medical, player loans, the academy, in order to try and make sure that the club is sustainable, we spend our money wisely, we open up pathways for young players to come through the system.”
When talking about how much impact Ashworth had on the philosophy side of things when he worked under Graham Potter at Brighton, Ashworth responded, “You hire a coach that matches the philosophy that the club thinks they want to go and the direction of travel they see the club going, my job is to stitch all of that together.” As Ashworth will be working directly with manager Eddie Howe it is almost certain that talks will currently be going on right through the summer on the vision and future of Newcastle United and how they will go about it.
“Making sure that the 23s, the 18s and the academy put the right plans around the young players, we get them out on loan at the right places to give them every chance of being able to play for Brighton and play for Graham.” Development and youth are something that looks to be a key part of Ashworth’s work and is definitely something that we will see implemented on a stronger basis at the club. Newcastle United was one of four clubs that didn’t give a single minute to a teenager in the Premier League last season, along with Burnley, Chelsea and Leicester City. I’m sure this is a statistic that Howe and Ashworth will be exploring to try and push more youth players through the system to then go on and play for the first team.
“My view is if you keep changing the head coach every 14 months or so which I think is about the average lifespan of a manager unfortunately nowadays and then you go from one philosophy to the other, you’ve got no chance of joining up your loans, your academy, your development program and your player recruitment […] so its about long-term planning in order to get the best out of our resources.” With Graham Potter still in charge at Brighton and doing a fantastic job, it looks like Eddie Howe is here to stay for the long-term and this partnership with Dan Ashworth should get all Newcastle fans very excited for the start of a new era at the club.
In a statement on the club’s official website, Dan Ashworth said, “Each time I’ve been to St. James’ Park in the past, I have been reminded of the club’s long history and the unrivalled passion of its fan base. It is a huge football club with great potential, and I am incredibly positive about what we can collectively achieve… I’m excited to start work immediately and look forward to being part of a team that is helping the club to grow and achieve long-term success.”
So, what are your thoughts on the appointment of Dan Ashworth and where can you see The Toon finishing in the Premier League next season?
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Fantasy Premier League: Newcastle’s top players prices revealed
Fantasy Premier League have revealed the prices for eleven of Newcastle’s top players next season.
With the 2022/23 Premier League season fast approaching, clubs have been revealing their Fantasy Premier League prices.
There are some promising bargains among the Magpies’ ranks. Newcaslte’s 2021/22 top FPL point scorer Allan Saint-Maximin will remain just £6.5m. He has been reclassified from midfield to attack, and so players may find it harder to make space for him with more limited forward positions.
Newcastle’s most expensive player will be Callum Wilson. Last season’s top scorer will be worth £7.5m in the game. Users will hope that if he can avoid last season’s injury woes he will be guaranteed big points.
Midfielder Bruno Guimarães has increased in price to £6m. The Brazilian was listed at a meagre £5m on his arrival in January, but his form since then has earned him a higher price tag. With five goals and an assist in just seventeen Premier League appearances last season he will still be a tempting proposition.
Fellow January arrival Kieran Trippier will be valued at £5m. He only managed six appearances for Newcastle last season but scored two goals from free kicks in that spell. As a set-piece taking defender, Trippier has the potential to make significant point contributions from the back.
New keeper Nick Pope will look promising at £5m after proving his abilities with Burnley. He may be sharing game-time with Martin Dúbravka, which could see his points total limited. Other Magpies players not guaranteed minutes include Joe Willock (£5m), Fabian Schar (£4.5m) and Chris Wood (£6m).
— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) July 3, 2022
Fans will also hope that more talent is set to arrive at St James’ Park before the start of next season, with plenty of time left in the transfer window.
Elsewhere, other top players have had their prices revealed. At present, players from fifteen clubs have been announced.
Kevin de Bruyne and Mohamad Salah are the most expensive players listed so far. Both come in at the high price of £12m, but are bound to prove popular with users nonetheless.
Erling Haaland is next highest priced, at £11.5m for Man City’s new striker. Cristiano Ronaldo, if he remains at Old Trafford, will be worth £10.5m. The Portuguese striker started last season at a record cost of £12.5m. Despite the drop in price, he was last season’s second highest scoring attacker at 159 points.
The Premier League season kicks off on 5th August with Arsenal vs Crystal Palace, with Newcastle facing newly promoted Nottingham Forest on Saturday 6th.
Who will be included in your team? Have your say on our Facebook page…
North East Updates will have our Fantasy Football League – stay tuned for updates on how to join.
Eddie Howe’s pre-season: Opposition, Venues and more.
Pre-season is vital when it comes to preparing for a new season for all football clubs around the world. It is a time where you can test different tactics, experiment with young and new players and overall get a sense of where your squad is at before the start of the new season.
For Newcastle, they have plenty of games to test the waters and give new signings like Nick Pope and Sven Botman time to get up to scratch before the start of the new Premier League season.
First, they play Gateshead in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Newcastle United Training Centre on Saturday, 9th July. Gateshead are managed by former Magpies defender Mike Williamson and their side have just been promoted to the National League after winning the National League North.
Eddie Howe’s side will then travel to Austria for a week-long training camp where they will play two games.
The first opposition is TSV 1860 Munich who currently play in the third tier of German football, 3. Liga. The match will take place on Friday, 15th July and will be played at the SaalfeldenArena Burgerau, kick-off is set for 6 pm local time. The former champions of Germany have had success in the past when they finished as runners-up in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1964/65 season. The Toon met with this side in the UEFA Intertoto Cup back in 2001, Newcastle won 6-3 on aggregate across the two legs. One of Munich’s best players, Marcel Bar, scored 21 goals in 37 appearances last season.
Then, Newcastle play Mainz on Monday, 18th July in what will be their third pre-season fixture. The match will be played at the 4,500-capacity Kufstein Arena and will kick-off at 5 pm local time. Mainz, currently managed by Bo Svensson, finished 8th in the Bundesliga last season. The last time the two sides met was in a pre-season game back in the summer of 2017, Mainz came out on top winning 2-1. Some of their best players include Jonathan Burkardt who managed to bag himself 11 goals and 3 assists last season as well as Moussa Niakhate who scored 8 goals and assisted 5 times.
The Toon then have eight days to prepare for their next pre-season fixture as they travel to Portugal to play Benfica at the Estadio da Luiz for the Eusebio Cup. The match will take place on Tuesday, 26th July and will kick-off at 8 pm local time. Benfica finished third in the Portugal Liga Nos last season. It’s been 9 years since the sides last met in the Europa League quarter-finals when Papiss Cisse’s goal in the second leg wasn’t enough and the Magpies exited the competition losing 4-2 on aggregate. Benfica were knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals by Liverpool last season and some of their best players include Rafa Silva who came out with 23 goal contributions last season and Alex Grimaldo who scored 5 and assisted 5 from left-back last season.
To finish pre-season the Toon then face a double-header at St James’ Park. The first game played on Friday, 29th July will be against Atalanta. It is expected that Howe will split his first-team squad across the two fixtures and play two completely different teams. Atalanta finished 8th in Serie A last season and exited the Europa League quarter-finals following a 3-1 aggregate defeat to RB Leipzig. Mario Pasalic is one of their best players and had a very successful 2021/22 season which saw him earn 20 goal contributions from centre midfield in the league. The match will kick-off at 7:45 pm in St James’ Park
Newcastle will then face Spanish side Athletic Bilbao, just a week before the first game of the Premier League season against Nottingham Forest to finish their pre-season. Bilbao finished 8th in La Liga last season and were close to cup success, following a 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final. Inaki Williams who hasn’t missed a single game for the Spanish side in over six years is a threat up-front and captain Iker Muniain will also be a danger for the Toon following last season where he managed 10 assists and 4 goals.
Ticket information for these games are to be confirmed soon.
So what do you think of the pre-season fixtures and how many wins will Eddie Howe’s side manage in what promises to be an exciting season ahead.
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Transfer update: NUFC looking at Bayern and Leeds forwards and defensive departures
After confirming the signing of defender Sven Botman, and long-term target Hugo Ekitike off the table, Newcastle are set to look elsewhere in the transfer market.
The signing of Reims forward Hugo Ekitke is now in doubt. Reports are that the players’ agent, Karl Mwalako Buchmann, has brought discussions to a standstill. Newcastle were close to completing a move for the young winger in January and again this summer.
With these two long running sagas appearing over, Eddie Howe and Dan Ashworth will work on other transfers.
Securing Matt Targett, Nick Pope and Sven Botman marks a positive transfer window already for the Magpies, but their search for attacking reinforcements will continue.
According to The Chronicle, Eddie Howe wants a winger and a striker to compete with Callum Wilson next season.
One attacker Newcastle have been linked with is Leeds’ Jack Harrison. The club are reported to have enquired about Harrison. The talented 25-year old would seem a good fit in the Newcastle squad, and fit with the attractive stlye of football Eddie Howe has his side playing.
Per the Telegraph’s Luke Edwards, Newcastle are keen on Harrison but have a limited budget remaining.
Things can change but after signing of Botman should be quiet at #nufc on recruitment front for a bit. Dutch defender was priority signing in this window so everyone delighted to get him. Ekitike deal is dead so looking at alternatives. Jack Harrison remains a player of interest
— Luke Edwards (@LukeEdwardsTele) June 27, 2022
With Leeds forward Raphinha looking set to leave Elland Road for Chelsea, it could take a lot for Newcastle to persuade Leeds to depart with another winger.
Reports from Belgium have suggested Newcastle are competing to sign striker Joshua Zirkzee from Bayern Munich. The Dutchman spent last season on a successful loan spell at Anderlecht. The 21-year old has also drawn interest from Ajax.
Zirkzee scored 16 and made 9 assists in 38 appearances for the Belgian side during his loan spell last season.
In terms of departures, the arrival of Sven Botman could make way for Jamaal Lascelles to leave. The captain has long been linked with a return to Nottingham Forest.
Lascelles’ inclusion in marketing for Newcastle’s new third kit has been seen as a sign that the club are unwilling to part with the player. As an experienced player he could provide continuity in Newcastle’s new-look back four. It remains to be seen whether he would be content to play second fiddle to players like Botman, or move in search of more game time.
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