NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has opened up on his “respect” for Dan Ashworth as the Brighton & Hove Albion technical director continues to be linked with a role at Newcastle United.
Arab News understands the Magpies are in negotiations with former Football Association “England DNA” architect Ashworth to take on a similar role to the one he has with the Seagulls up on Tyneside.
And while it is hoped Ashworth will accept a “substantial” contract offer from United, it is not a given he will walk away from his project down on the south coast of England.
When asked about Ashworth's possible arrival, head coach Howe was coy on the matter, although he did admit he has respect for the 50-year-old's work.
He said: “I highly respect Dan and his work but I won’t go into more than that. I like him and respect him but I will not comment anymore.”
He will, of course, have little say in the matter, but is Howe open to working within a director of football or sporting director structure at Newcastle?
“I think it is vitally important you get the structure right at any football club,” he said when asked about the subject.
“The relationships are so important between the owner to the sporting director to the manager and the players, the recruitment team. Life is built around relationships and making sure those relationships are honest and open and everyone trusts each other, that's fundamental. And then you build a healthy working relationship and try to take the club forward.
“That’s what I will do with whoever comes in. Hopefully the relationship will be a strong one.”
A pressing concern for Howe in the coming weeks, apart from games and getting points on the board, is the January transfer window and securing new recruits.
Howe has revealed work started on deals at the beginning of December, although he is refusing to make any winter window promises.
“We obviously have players that we have identified between myself, the coaching team, recruitment team,” he said.
“We have a big body of people behind the scenes working on behalf of the football club to try and find a way to strengthen the squad. The work has been going on all through December and a lot of detail has gone into that process,” said Howe.
“But as we all know, you can have the most detailed process in the world but if players don’t want to come to your club or clubs don’t want to sell, January becomes very difficult,” he added. “We are under no illusions, and we make no promises on what will and won’t be done but the work goes on behind the scenes.”
Meanwhile, one current player whose future has been brought into sharp focus by fans in recent weeks has been Allan Saint-Maximin.
The Frenchman was United’s standout player at the start of the season with goals and assists added to his obvious talent.
Those have, however, dried up in recent times and the performances seem to have dipped.
Howe is not losing faith in his enigmatic forward just yet, though — instead focussing on how to get the best out of United trickster.
“Maxi is a huge, huge player for us. He is the catalyst for many things,” he said. “It is all about us trying to function well enough, give enough stability to then give him the ball more and showcase his talents.”
“We need to give him the ball more in the attacking third because he is such an exciting player,” added Howe. “We are still working out the best way to utilize him in each moment of the game.”