Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Gary Neville tips new Man Utd chief to hold massive Arsenal transfer miss inquest: ‘A change is needed’

Gary Neville Sky Sports pundit poses for a selfie

Gary Neville Sky Sports pundit poses for a selfie

Gary Neville believes the immiment appointment of Dan Ashworth as the first-ever Manchester United sporting director is exactly what the club needs  – and he thinks the transfer guru will not just look to rebuild the Red Devils but also run a detailed look how a number of other top targets were missed.

A bright new era is about to unfold at Old Trafford with Sir Jim Ratcliffe poised to see his 25% investment into the club officially cleared, granting the British billionaire full sporting control of the club. In the process, the 71-year-old will also oversee all the transfer ins and outs at Manchester United – and to help get that right, a move to bring in Ashworth as the club’s first-ever sporting director is also closing in.

The 52-year-old has impressed during a two-year stint with Newcastle, having overseen a number of top-class signings that have helped secure the Magpies a place in this season’s Champions League.

Prior to that, his phenomenal work at Brighton also earned him many admirers, with a move to Old Trafford already being billed as a real coup for the club.

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Indeed, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe has moved to play down the impact of Ashworth’s imminent departure, though has described the situation as unusual and making clear his wish to ensure the saga is resolved as quickly as possible.

“Obviously it’s been in the news a lot and usually with these things that means something’s going to happen. But as we speak now we’ve had no contact from anyone,” Howe said.

“It’s quite an unusual situation. Usually there’s transfer speculation on players. This is very different. Of course whatever happens we want a quick resolution.”

Gary Neville believes Ashworth will hold Declan Rice transfer inquest

Howe continued: “I think it’s a difficult one because when you’re in that role I think you need longevity to actually see the fruits of your labour. It’s a long-term position.”

In the meantime, Ashworth is expected to be put in place at Old Trafford in the coming weeks, with thoughts over the summer window quickly expected to be placed at the forefront of his mind.

However, such is the thorough nature of Ashworth, Sky Sports pundit Neville reckons he will also want to know why and understand how a number of the club’s previous top targets  – most notably Declan Rice – evaded the club’s grasp, despite previous strong links.

Rice ultimately ended up signing for Arsenal in a deal worth up to £105m, with the former West Ham star having been on United’s radar for a good few years prior to that move.

“Do you know what I think he will do [Dan Ashworth]?” Neville said on Sky Sports’ The Overlap podcast. “He will look back at analysis because he is that type of guy, he’ll definitely look at who has signed off on the players that have been signed over the past two or three years.

“Because they’ll be reports there, they’ll be names against who has signed off on players – he’ll definitely do all of that.

“He’ll definitely look at things like the players they missed out on, and what was said about those players.

“Say, Luis Díaz goes to Liverpool, or Declan Rice goes to Arsenal, they’ll look at what they were we saying about Declan Rice, because that historically was a Manchester player, Declan Rice.”

Exactly what Manchester United need

Neville reckons Rice is the best player in the English game and feels he would have made a huge difference at United had they beaten Arsenal to his signature.

Instead, the Red Devils spent £70m on signing the ageing Casemiro from Real Madrid instead the summer before, to leave Neville gasping: “The best player in England, who was at another club like West Ham, United would sign that player!”

Neville continued: “To sort of access the staff that are in there now. He’ll be looking at everything in detail, he is so detailed.

“I do think there will be change – whether that brings success or not, but there will be change in terms of everything that goes on.”

He continued: “And it’s needed, they’ve operated for 10 years without a Sporting Director – with a manager and Ed Woodward, who is predominantly banker and financier.”

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