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Dan Ashworth implementing Brighton recruitment best practice – Newcastle United massive beneficiaries

6 months ago

It has been a remarkable story at Brighton in recent years, Dan Ashworth credited with a / the major role in their astonishing progress.

The Seagulls headhunted him in 2018 after his stellar success in the FA Director of Elite Development job.

Dan Ashworth top of the list when it came to his role in creating the “England DNA”, an elite player development plan which aimed “to help create winning senior teams, in the men’s and the women’s game.”

Appointed as Technical Director at the south coast club in early 2019 after resigning from England / The FA, as Brighton that season escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth, Dan Ashworth then put in place foundations and plans that have played a massive role in this remarkable Brighton story of recent times.

Fortunes banked through players recruited in recent years, a very healthy club from top to bottom, plus the small matter of finishing sixth in the Premier League this past season.

There have obviously been any number of people who played their part in this astonishing progress at the Amex Stadium BUT very difficult to argue that any were more important to it than Dan Ashworth.

Tony Bloom did everything he could to retain Dan Ashworth AND then made it as difficult as possible for Dan Ashworth to get started in his new role at St James’ Park, once he announced his resignation in February 2022. The club’s owner gutted to lose Ashworth and only when Newcastle’s owners agreed to pay considerable compensation, was his lengthy gardening period allowed to be cut short. Arriving at Newcastle United as Sporting Director in summer 2022, rather than having to wait until winter 2022.

In the short time he has been at St James’ Park, Dan Ashworth already credited as the main man in making so many changes these past 12 months.

So much work to be done after the decade and a half of Mike Ashley neglect and running Newcastle United into the ground.

Dan Ashworth taking a leading role in the club’s massive recruitment drive, an ongoing process of taking on hundreds of new staff at all levels, to give Newcastle United the essential numbers and expertise needed for a massive seriously ambitious club.

On Monday, a report profiled how Dan Ashworth has overseen a massive overhaul of the Academy recruitment department, including headhunting and bringing in 13 new staff in a matter of months.

A lot more visible of course has been the recruitment of some very impressive signings, first team players such as Nick Pope (£10m!!), plus the superb Sven Botman and Alexander Isak.

Below that level of signings who will immediately challenge for a first team place, Dan Ashworth is implementing Brighton recruitment best practice, with Newcastle United the massive beneficiaries

A very serious and integral part of the plan at Brighton under Dan Ashworth, was the south coast club having a strategy of placing homegrown younger players and those signed from elsewhere, at the best possible clubs to help bring them on. The hope of course being that eventually these loaned out players would become key first team starters at Brighton.

Kaoru Mitoma has been sensational for Brighton this past season, turns out he arrived in summer 2021 from Japanese club football, was then loaned out to Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium (they are currently second in the table), then came back to the Seagulls for this season.

Alexis Mac Allister signed from Argentinos Juniors back in 2019, spending loan time at Boca Juniors which helped him then pave the way to playing for the Brighton first team and… winning the World Cup.

Of others in the current Brighton first team squad, Deniz Undav also spent time on loan at Union Saint-Gilloise.

Whilst the excellent 21 year old Moises Caicedo was at Beerschot on loan previously, another Belgian top tier club (at that time).

Then you have Jan Paul Van Hecke who was previously at Blackburn, playing in the Championship.

Looking at the current Brighton situation and players who were out on loan this past 2022/23 season, I found ten listed who are all between the ages of 19 and 24, a mixture of homegrown players and those signed from elsewhere.

The clubs they were at this past season were Vitesse Arnhem, Angers, Union Saint-Gilloise, Standard Liege, Hull City, Fortuna Dusseldorf, FC Basel, Derby County and QPR. A mixture of Championship clubs and decent standard clubs on the continent (and Derby in League One).

You can see the clear strategy there, Brighton loan players at the kind of clubs where if they prove themselves, then they could feasibly make that potential jump to playing for Brighton.

As I said earlier, so much work for Dan Ashworth (and others) to do to help turn Newcastle United around and then properly progress it.

That turnaround and progress at least possible now, with Dan Ashworth one of the club’s key signings, along with others such as Eddie Howe and Darren Eales. Newcastle United are a club now getting rebuilt, the aim to be bigger and better than ever before.

Implementing the kind of strategy and overreaching plan that he put in place at Brighton, is going to take the NUFC Sporting Director some time, to get it up to full speed.

However, Monday’s exciting signing of teenage winger Yankuba Minteh is a very clear statement of intent, for Newcastle to be signing such a player and then instantly loan him out to the Dutch champions Feyenoord, who will also be competing in the Champions League this coming season, in order for Minteh to have the best possible chance of progressing, is uplifting stuff.

It very much points to the sheer scale of the club that these Newcastle United owners are looking to build.

Some will point to Garang Kuol having what seems a disappointing initial loan spell at Hearts these recent months but that is a daft way of looking at it.

As happened with Brighton, Dan Ashworth and Eddie Howe will be looking to bring in any number of exciting young players and then along with what will hopefully be a steady flow of future homegrown players through the Academy, to have a host of them out on loan at decent level clubs.

The thing is with Garang Kuol anyway, the Australian domestic league is a massive leap to even the Scottish Premier AND the teenage forward had played minimal senior football before his transfer, far less than Yankuba Minteh for example.

Not every young player that Dan Ashworth and Eddie Howe sends out on loan will turn out to be an Alexis Mac Allister or Kaoru Mitoma, BUT I am ready to bet now, that in the years to come we WILL see plenty of similar success stories at Newcastle United, where younger players end up becoming NUFC first teamers after a loan spell or two elsewhere to help develop them.


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