When Roy Hodgson announced his departure from the Baggies towards the end of last season a number of fans were thankful it was the Albion manager and not Dan Ashworth it had come calling for. However, a matter of months on, the FA is back. And Ashworth is off.
Ashworth’s arrival at the club was somewhat low-key. The former Norwich player arrived initially as director of the Academy. He was quickly fast-tracked to Sporting and Technical Director. He now departs as one of the hottest properties in English football.
Those who questioned whether Albion would be more affected by the departure of Hodgson or Ashworth will soon find out. Steve Clarke already looks an astute appointment. He seems tactically aware, he’s embraced the philosophy of the club and is well liked by fans and players – despite being in charge for only four competitive games.
But it’s in Ashworth’s replacement where we’ll find out just how good the FA’s latest recruit was for Albion. Make no mistake he’s uncovered some diamonds from across the globe. I recently spoke to the Daily Telegraph’s Henry Winter. He was amazed at the amount Albion had spent on amassing a talented XI compared with the millions spent by Liverpool.
Ashworth hasn’t just got a talented eye to spot a player – in fact he’s not even employed as a scout. However, he is the glue that holds the hierarchy of the club together. Traditionally he’s been the ‘go-between’ for the head coach and the chairman. But Ashworth is more than simply a middle-man. He was the one who sold the ‘vision’ of the club to Roy Hodgson and many more before him.
He’s also helped develop the club’s academy. It’s was Ashworth’s faith in George Thorne which has seen the talented youngster progress through the ranks and into the fringes of Albion’s first team. There’s no doubt that he will be a big loss to the club.
The departing Ashworth has indicated he’ll play a part in appointing his successor. Let’s hope he can discover one more gem for the Baggies to build on the platform he has created. The King is dead; long live the King.
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