EDDIE Howe says Newcastle United will put their own interests first in their Dan Ashworth wrangle with Manchester United - and has stressed the importance of the Magpies "moving forward stronger than we were before" as club chiefs assess how best to replace the outgoing sporting director.

Ashworth was placed on gardening leave earlier this week after telling Newcastle bosses he wanted to leave for Old Trafford, but new Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe said the idea that he'd have to pay £20m to sanction the sporting director's release was "absurd".

Howe refused to comment on Ratcliffe's claims, saying: "I'm not involved in those discussions and I'll stay well away". Howe doesn't expect to be a major figure in the decision-making process to replace Ashworth, but will put his thoughts to the club's hierarchy and says the priority is the recruitment of a sporting director who is in it for the long-haul.

"I have my own opinions and I'll express those to the club. It's about making good decisions and making sure we're running effectively as best as we can," said the head coach.

"It'll be the club's decision to get the opinions and then decide which is the best step forward.

"It's not my right to make that decision but certainly the inner workings [of the club] and making sure we have good relationships with people, that certainly helps the process and I think that's probably more important than anything.

"Of course it won't just be my opinion that they will listen to, they'll be listening to lots of different opinions from lots of different people. Hopefully at the end we just come to the right solution for the football club because hopefully the next person that comes in will be at the club for many years and will be able to take the club in the direction everyone wants it to.

"I think I said last week, ideally in that role you are in the position for a long period of time. It's a bit like being an academy manager, in charge of the academy, you're not going to see the end result of your work for many years because you're putting things in place. That's the same as a sporting director. It's a longer term role, ideally."


Howe insists the Ashworth uncertainty in recent weeks has had no impact on the players, but the situation looks set to rumble on for a while, with Manchester United refusing to pay the compensation and Newcastle unwilling to soften their stance.

Howe said: "In these situations it’s about Newcastle from our perspective. That is for other people to make those decisions, I’m not involved in that in any way, shape or form. I’m preparing the team to play Arsenal."

Asked for his assessment on Ashworth's work during his 20 months at St James' Park, Howe said: "I don't think I should be going there. That's something for other people to reflect on. Certainly as a football club we need to reflect and make sure we move forward stronger than we were before. That has to be our aim."

Howe was also asked whether he has spoken to Ashworth in the last week.

"No," he replied, before saying: "No, that’s a lie. I have, yes."

Asked what was said, he replied: "That’s between me and Dan."