Analytics FC in the Media: Who is Dan Ashworth?

Who is Dan Ashworth? With the Newcastle Sporting Director currently being heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, football magazine and website FourFourTwo did a deep dive on the highly-rated transfer guru, who also has a strong track record of overhauling sporting departments and improving performance across clubs.

In doing so, FourFourTwo lent heavily on research published on Analytic FC’s site in a long article by Josh Hobbs. As part of a series, Josh examined a number of talented sporting directors or directors of football, looking at their transfer records, how they conduct business, and how that feeds into their respective clubs’ strategic approaches. As well as Ashworth, Josh looked at Luis Campos, Monchi, Txiki Begiristain, and Michael Edwards.

Josh’s article assessed Ashworth’s incoming and outgoing transfer business at Brighton & Hove Albion, breaking down his work into peak and long-term player acquisitions, and also analysing the role Ashworth played in the Ben White transfer, which secured the selling club a very significant sum.

As FourFourTwo pointed out, “According to a report via Analytics FC, over three seasons and six transfer windows, Ashworth brought 22 players to the club, while 30 players have left. The incomings cost £157.46 million with £89.76 million being brought in through sales, leading to a net spend of £67.7 million.”

Pre-peak age players signed by Dan Ashworth at Brighton & Hove Albion

Indeed, Josh showed that the average age of incomings under Ashworth was 22.81 compared to the average for outgoings, which was 27.7. This shows how Ashworth went about overhauling the squad, while also planning for the future. It’s this kind of approach which has likely attracted the attention of Manchester United.

Josh then went on to suggest how Ashworth might work at Newcastle, observing that:

Ashworth’s experience at Brighton in identifying players who are able to raise the level of the squad despite coming from less glamorous leagues could be vital. He will surely try to attract some players from Europe’s elite leagues as well but a blended approach here could serve Newcastle well.

And this has certainly been born out by Ashworth’s work at Newcastle, where money has been spent in Serie A and LaLiga, but also in the Championship, the A-League, and the Danish SuperLiga. Whether this continues at United, should Ashworth move, remains to be seen: with a different set of challenges it will be interesting to see how, if at all, Ashworth adjusts his approach.

You can read more of Josh’s work for the Transfer Gurus series on the Analytics FC blog.

Header image copyright IMAGO/Eibner Europe

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