Soccer

Eddie Howe says Newcastle will push for best possible deal for Dan Ashworth

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has called suggestions Ashworth could serve 18 months on garden leave “completely stupid”.

Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe has warned Manchester they will not get sporting director Dan Ashworth on the cheap
Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe has warned Manchester they will not get sporting director Dan Ashworth on the cheap Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe has warned Manchester they will not get sporting director Dan Ashworth on the cheap (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has insisted Manchester United will not get sporting director Dan Ashworth on the cheap.

Ashworth was placed on garden leave earlier this week after telling the club he wanted to leave St James’ Park after just 20 months to take up a similar role at Old Trafford.

New Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has made Ashworth’s recruitment a priority and has railed against suggestions that his release could cost £20million, describing the prospect of the 52-year-old facing up to 18 months in limbo under the terms of his contract with the Magpies as “completely stupid”.

New Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has made Dan Ashworth’s recruitment a priority
New Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has made Dan Ashworth's recruitment a priority New Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has made Dan Ashworth’s recruitment a priority (Peter Byrne/PA)

Asked how important it was that the hierarchy on Tyneside got the best possible deal, head Howe coach Howe said: “In these situations, it’s about Newcastle, from our perspective.

“But that is for other people to make those decisions, I’m not involved in that in any way, shape or form. I’m preparing the team to play Arsenal.”

Ashworth’s impending departure has come as a huge blow to the Magpies’ ownership group, which lured him from Brighton to oversee its plans for a successful long-term future.

After the renowned administrator informed the club of his wish to leave, Howe, who had formed a close working relationship with the former Football Association technical director, voiced his fears over the intelligence he could take with him.

Asked if he had spoken to Ashworth this week, he said, “No” before adding, “No, that’s a lie. I have, yes”.

Although he declined to reveal what was said, Howe insisted they had parted on good terms.

Newcastle launched the search for a replacement as they confirmed Ashworth’s decision and Howe, who revealed he will have an input but not the final say, is hoping the successful candidate will prove a long-term appointment.

He said: “Ideally in that role, you are in the position for a long period of time. It’s a bit like being an academy manager, you’re not going to see the end result of your work for many years because you’re putting things in place.

“That’s the same as a sporting director. It’s a longer term role, ideally.”

Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe (right) insists there is no bad blood between he and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe (right) insists there is no bad blood between he and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe (right) insists there is no bad blood between he and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (Owen Humphreys/PA)

In the meantime, Howe’s attention is firmly on Saturday’s trip to the Emirates Stadium and the prospect of trying to keep the Gunners and in particular in-form England international Bukayo Saka, in check.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta left St James’ furious after a 1-0 defeat on November 4 with Anthony Gordon’s winning goal surviving three different VAR checks, although his Magpies’ counterpart does not believe there is any bad blood between the clubs.

Howe said: “Mikel is a very passionate guy, he will defend his team. I am the same, I will defend my team. I like to think there is a lot of mutual respect between us both.”

Former Gunners midfielder Joe Willock could be included in the squad for the first time since suffering an Achilles injury in November, while striker Alexander Isak has a chance of returning after a three-game absence with a groin problem.