Brighton's Dan Ashworth explains the role of a technical director
Brighton and Hove Albion’s technical director Dan Ashworth has lifted the lid on his all-encompassing role with the Premier League club.
Ashworth, who started work on the south coast in February after six years in a similar role with the English Football Association, was asked to explain the increasing importance of roles like his in the Premier League.
With just three English top flight sides without a technical director or similar at the present time - Manchester United, Sheffield United and Newcastle United - the role is being recognized as becoming synonymous with success.
Speaking on BT Sport ahead of Brighton’s 3-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday, Ashworth explained how he “stitches” everything together for the Seagulls.
Ashworth, who reserved special praise for former manager Chris Hughton, said he and chairman Tony Bloom appointed former Swansea coach Graham Potter as head coach in the summer because he fitted the club’s philosophy, instead of the philosophy being set by Potter.
“The chairman here at Brighton has a vision of how he wants the club to play and how he wants to recruit players and Graham (Potter) was very high on the list of people he thought could deliver that vision.,” said Ashworth.
“Tony invested in the club 10 years ago when they were in League One and he has built the club up incredibly with the training ground and the stadium and the vision for Tony is to be a top-10 Premier League club.
“But that’s a difficult thing because there are clubs already in those positions and plenty of other clubs with more resources than us to build that, so it’s about doing things differently and developing young players and recruiting a little bit differently and making our resources stretch a little bit further.
“We have a coach that matches the philosophy that the club thinks they want, that matches the direction of travel they think they want to go in,” Ashworth said.
Asked about his day to day involvement, he said that team tactics on matchdays were solely down to Potter.
“A technical director’s role is always best described as looking after the interests of the club in the medium to long term. There are six things that come into me - men’s first team, women’s first team, player recruitment, the Academy, medical and sports science, and the player loan department.
“All of those are medium to long term things, such as player loans and Academy and recruitment in order to try and make sure the club is sustainable, we spend our money wisely and we open up pathways for the young players to come through the system.
“What Tony and the board wouldn’t do is hire a coach that’s totally against the direction of travel they want the club to go in. My job is to stitch that together. It is then about making sure that the U23s, U18s and Academy put the right plans around the young players to give them every chance of being able to play for Brighton and Graham.
“My view - our view - is that if you keep changing the head coach every 14 months or so, which is the average lifespan of a manager nowadays, and then go from one philosophy to another, you have no chance of joining up your loans, Academy, development and player recruitment.
“You end up having to change 16, 17, 18 players in order to change the principles and philosophy. It is about a long-term plan in order to get the best out of the resources we have at Brighton.
“We’re in a situation where if Graham wins 10 games on the trot people could be looking at him to move upwards. “
Asked how long do you stick to the philosophy if it’s not getting results and asked whether you change, he said: “No you don’t, but ultimately that’s a decision for Tony and the board. Performances have been good and we’re probably a few points away from where we deserve to be. We’re confident it will turn.”
After a successful side with the England national side which culminated in helping the Three Lions reach the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup - their best showing for some time - Ashworth was asked why he took the Brighton job with many suggesting it was a step down.
Ashworth said: “This project (at Brighton) was fantastic for me, because it was a proper technical director job. Some are just head of recruitment, some are more on the operations and business side.
"This was all-encompassing. It had the Academy, loans, medical and was heavily involved with the first team and player recruitment, which was more of a continental approach.
“To work in a great place, with great facilities and great people that’s why I took the job.”