Newcastle identify ‘marginal favourite’ to replace Man Utd-bound Ashworth with ‘reduced shortlist’

Lewis Oldham
Newcastle Ashworth Freedman
Dan Ashworth and Dougie Freedman.

According to reports, Newcastle United have ‘reduced’ their ‘shortlist’ of potential candidates to replace Manchester United-bound Dan Ashworth.

Newcastle sporting director Ashworth has been with the Premier League club since 2022 as the former Brighton chief was identified as a top target by PIF following their takeover.

The 53-year-old is regarded as one of the leading sporting directors around at the moment and his spell at Newcastle is expected to be brief as Man Utd want him.

Ashworth has a close relationship with new Man Utd co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the INEOS chief is keen to bring him to Old Trafford as part of his major overhaul.

One of Ratcliffe’s priorities in recent months has been to improve Man Utd’s recruitment model. Chief executive Omar Berrada and technical director Jason Wilcox have been drafted in from Man City and Southampton respectively, while Ashworth may be the final piece of the jigsaw.

Will Freedman replace Ashworth at Newcastle?

Earlier this year, Ashworth was placed in gardening leave with Newcastle demanding £20m from Man Utd. The Red Devils are unwilling to meet this asking price but it is expected that a compromise will be reached in the coming months.

Newcastle have already turned their attention to finding Ashworth’s replacement. A recent report from The Daily Mail claimed Crystal Palace chief Dougie Freedman is their ‘preferred’ candidate and they even went as far to suggest it’s his ‘job to turn down’.

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A new report from The Telegraph claims Newcastle’s ‘Ashworth replacement shortlist has been reduced to two names’.

It is noted that Freedman – who has also been linked with Man Utd – and German Johannes Spors are at the front of the queue, but the Crystal Palace man is the ‘marginal favourite’.

The report reveals two reasons why Freedman is favoured, with a ‘final decision’ expected to be ‘made shortly’.

‘Telegraph Sport understands that a final decision will be made shortly with both men having supporters within the club. There were three names under consideration last week but Freedman and Spors have now emerged as the front runners.

‘Freedman is the marginal favourite as he is already known to manager Eddie Howe and has a proven track record of recruitment in the Premier League, unearthing gems like Adam Wharton and Michael Olise from Blackburn Rovers and Reading.

‘It is thought the Scot is very keen on the job and impressed during the interview process with his ambitious vision for the club’s recruitment.

‘Sources have revealed the Newcastle hierarchy were impressed with his straight talking style in his interview and the onus during the search for a new sporting director has been to find someone who can improve the club’s recruitment process.

‘However, Spors is also much admired, interviewing well, and has more experience and a proven track record in the European market.’

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