Brighton technical director Dan Ashworth on Chris Hughton, England and the Premier League

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Dan Ashworth
Brighton & Hove Albion's new technical director Dan Ashworth (right) was previously the FA's Director of Elite Development

Brighton's new technical director Dan Ashworth says his aim is to keep manager Chris Hughton in a job for as long as possible.

Ashworth joined the Seagulls last week after six years in a similar role at the Football Association.

The appointment comes at a time when there is increased scrutiny on the role of football director, with Manchester United trying to work out a detailed job specification as they look to appoint someone for the first time.

"My job is to try and keep the first-team manager in a job for as long as possible," Ashworth told BBC Sport.

Ashworth, 47, decided to leave the FA as he landed on his way back from last summer's World Cup in Russia.

England's semi-final appearance added to an impressive list of accomplishments during Ashworth's time at the organisation, which also included World Cup final victories for England's Under-20 and Under-17 sides in 2017.

It made Ashworth a man in demand, although he refused to say whether he spoke to United before agreeing to join Brighton.

He said: "I wouldn't be prepared to discuss who I did or didn't speak to. Over the last few years, I'd spoken to a couple of clubs and some were more interesting than others but Brighton was the most interesting role for me and it was a terrific opportunity."

Technical director, sporting director or football director?

There are various titles associated with the role that tends to sit between the manager and the chief executive in a football club's leadership hierarchy.

Ashworth is not alone in distancing himself from the 'director of football' concept as "it is sometimes seen as more operational".

He is more comfortable with 'technical director' as it encompasses the elements of a job he feels should be about helping the first-team manager, not hindering him.

He said: "I have always seen this role as being the conduit between the board and the football department.

"Football clubs are vast now. You have the academy system, with a number of full-time members of staff and a long-term philosophy of young players for the club. You've got the player development role for players that are in that transition between youth and senior football, and are out on loan for example.

"Then you have player recruitment, which is a worldwide thing now. Someone has to do the sifting and make the recommendations. It is difficult for managers to watch players in depth."

The adrenaline rush

Ashworth's tenure started off well enough as Brighton recorded a 2-1 win over Derby to book an FA Cup quarter-final trip to Millwall.

They are a little close to the Premier League's relegation zone for comfort after claiming just six points from their last 11 games, although it is not expected Brighton will return to the Championship after a couple of seasons in the top flight.

Still, life in the bottom half of the Premier League, outside the top six who command most of the media coverage and compete for the biggest honours, seems a touch mundane compared to the excitement generated by England's run to the World Cup semi-final.

Ashworth doesn't agree.

He said: "One of the appeals of getting back into club football is through that competitive element in me and that adrenaline rush every time you're part of a team that plays.

"Any team that is trying to stay in the Premier League, or get into it, is competing at a world level.

"Once I had established that Chris was comfortable and it was a role that he wanted me in, it was a no-brainer really."

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