Gary Neville has already revealed why Newcastle chief will transform Man Utd

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe has reportedly singled out Dan Ashworth as his number one target at Manchester United

Gary Neville believes Dan Ashworth is “highly qualified” and “knows what he’s doing” amid reports linking him with Manchester United.

Various outlets have named the Newcastle United chief as Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s top target for sporting director. An audit at Old Trafford is underway, with former Manchester City CEO Omar Berrada already joining the Ineos-backed revolution.

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Ashworth has been identified as a top-level official to oversee operations at Carrington. The 52-year-old had spells at West Bromwich Albion, the FA and Brighton before being appointed by Newcastle in 2022.

Their Saudi-led ownership headhunted Ashworth shortly after the takeover and, in his first season on Tyneside, the Magpies qualified for the Champions League. United legend Neville has been an advocate of the Red Devils appointing an elite director of football to run sporting matters.

And speaking after Erik ten Hag’s side were thrashed 3-0 by Newcastle earlier this season, the former right-back highlighted how transformative Ashworth has been in other roles. Neville’s comments give an indication of what United fans can expect should Ratcliffe get his man.

"On my way up to the gantry last night I bumped into Dan Ashworth,” he said. “He transformed the FA’s structure, set Brighton up for this incredible period of success and has now built a strong foundation for the new owners at Newcastle.

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“He’s competent, highly qualified and knows what he’s doing. Will work with his coach, recruitment team and other departments coherently and calmly. In the last two matches, Manchester United have played two clubs that have installed proper football departments to support the team on the pitch and off it.

“The complete opposite of United. We haven’t got a sporting director! I used to travel up to Newcastle and feel sorry for their great fans when the energy and enthusiasm had been sapped from them under Mike Ashley. It was painful to see. Last night we saw the Theatre of Dreams turn into the Theatre of Nothing.”

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