Five candidates to replace Dan Ashworth at Newcastle United - including surprise left-field choice

Former Monaco sporting director Paul MitchellFormer Monaco sporting director Paul Mitchell
Former Monaco sporting director Paul Mitchell | AFP via Getty Images
Here are five names who could replace Dan Ashworth at Newcastle United.

Dan Ashworth has been placed on gardening leave by Newcastle United after asking to leave the club in light of interest from Manchester United.

In a statement released by the Magpies' CEO Darren Eales said: "We are naturally disappointed that Dan has chosen to leave, however our exciting journey doesn't stop and the process to recruit a new sporting director will begin immediately. "We thank Dan for his efforts at Newcastle United and we wish him and his family well for the future."

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With the search underway for a replacement, NewcastleWorld has profiled five potential candidates the United hierarchy could consider.

Phil Giles

A Geordie and lifelong Newcastle fan, Giles has been a key cog in the wheel of arguably English football’s most astute club for almost a decade. His black-and-white roots alone are not enough to land him a top job - so look no further than his CV.

Giles moved to the big smoke after earning his PhD in statistics at Newcastle University. He joined SmartOdds, an analytical company owned by Brentford owner Matthew Benham.

An impressive body of work led him to the Bees, where he has been director of football since 2015. In that time, Brentford built a stadium, earned promotion to the Premier League and established themselves as a top-flight club.

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Michael Edwards

An unlikely choice given his desire to walk away from football in 2022. The former Liverpool spearheaded the club back to the summit of English football and was renowned as a key player in transfer negotiations.

But he walked away almost two years ago to focus on other ventures. In that time, the Reds have appointed three sporting directors and reportedly wanted Edwards back - an offer he rejected.

The 44-year-old is close to Eddie Howe, with the forming a bond at Portsmouth in the early noughties. This would be a coup if Newcastle were to pull it off but they are one of the most intriguing opportunities in football.

Richard Hughes

Reports at the back end of 2023 named Hughes as a possible contender when the Ashworth claims emerged. Another who Howe knows well as the former midfielder spent 11 years at Bournemouth as a player and a further decade as technical director.

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Many of the Cherries infrastructure is already at Newcastle, including Howe’s backroom staff and nephew, Andy, as first-team scout. Not to mention Callum Wilson and Matt Ritchie from the playing squad.

Hughes lacks the glamour or pedigree of other names on this list but, like Howe beforehand, could relish the chance to take the next step He would also be on the same page as the manager from day one.

Paul Mitchell

Mitchell was reportedly on Man United’s radar before they made Ashworth their top priority. He even left Monaco in October, a move that suggested a switch to Old Trafford was on the cards.

However, that now appears unlikely but he is targeting an English club. Mitchell, from the North West, claimed personal reasons were behind his Monaco exit.

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“It was a very difficult decision,” he said. “I loved my experience at this club. We had several discussions about my mission, about the possibility of changing roles within the club or extending my contract. I am very grateful to the president for trusting me. 

“We have built a relationship based on transparency and honesty. But I have spent a lot of time away from home and my loved ones in recent years. I feel that the mission I had, which was to rebuild the sports project, has been fulfilled.”

Tiago Pinto

A free agent following his exit from Roma earlier this month. The Portuguese chief would also be a left-field choice given his background and age.

At just 39, Pinto is already established as one of Europe’s brightest footballing brains. He was key in unleashing a conveyor belt of talent at Benfica, including Ederson, Ruben Dias, Joao Felix and Goncalo Ramos.

He has previously expressed his desire to work in the Premier League. This is an appointment that would excite Newcastle fans.

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