Gareth Southgate backs Dan Ashworth for top role

Gareth Southgate today backed Dan Ashworth as the perfect man to spearhead the Football Association’s new vision.

Gareth Southgate today backed Dan Ashworth as the perfect man to spearhead the Football Association’s new vision.

The former Villa captain reckons the Baggies’ sporting and technical director is the right man for the job – after he turned down a similar role. Southgate rejected the chance to become the FA’s new technical director and, while the title will be modified, Ashworth is set to be named in the job this week.

He will be handed a senior position heading up the FA’s new technical department at the national football centre at St George’s Park, a move Southgate hailed.

He said: “I did my pro-licence the same year as Dan and I know him very well. He has done an exceptional job at West Brom and I’m sure he’ll be a good addition to the FA if he takes the job.

“The structure at Albion is excellent. You can only succeed if the structure is right but they have got it right and Dan has been a key part of that. This will be a different challenge if he takes it because the areas will be slightly different but he’ll do a good job.”

Ashworth, who has a 12-month notice period in his contract, is likely to stay at The Hawthorns and head-hunt his own successor with Albion hoping to keep him until the end of the season.

The Baggies have already lost Roy Hodgson, who became England boss, to the FA this year but with Ashworth set to join him, Southgate insisted their previous relationship mattered little. He said: “It’s pretty irrelevant he knows Roy really. You need to get on well with the senior manager but the roles do not really cross over – it’s a lot different to club level where you’re working closely all the time.”

Southgate, who made 245 appearances for Villa, ruled himself out in June after 18 months as the FA’s head of elite development and is yet to decide his next move. He added: “It’s a good question – one my wife wants to know. I really enjoyed my time at the FA but I felt the technical director’s job was not a role I wanted at this stage of my life.”