Newcastle United appointed a new sporting director in the summer as Dan Ashworth arrived to assist Eddie Howe.
The former FA chief masterminded the signings of Nick Pope, Matt Targett, Sven Botman and Alexander Isak on permanent deals and the club are currently sitting sixth in the Premier League table with the help of those additions.
Whilst supporters may look at the players he did sign, it is also worth looking at the decisions the former Brighton man made in avoiding certain transfers throughout the summer.
It was reported that the club had been pursuing a deal to sign Manchester United shot-stopper Dean Henderson on loan for the 2022/23 campaign but Ashworth arriving at St. James’ Park put a stop to that.
90min reporter Graeme Bailey claimed that the former Brighton chief was the main reason why the Magpies turned their back on a swoop for the English stopper, seemingly deciding that the 25-year-old was not good enough for what they wanted between the sticks.
He then turned his attention to signing Pope from relegated Burnley for a fee in the region of £10m, with the colossus putting pen to paper on a four-year deal.
Henderson, meanwhile, joined newly-promoted Nottingham Forest on loan. Steve Cooper claimed that they beat off interest from several Premier League sides to get the deal done, although Ashworth made sure that Newcastle were not one of them.
The Magpies’ sporting director’s decision has turned out to be a masterclass as he dodged a certain mistake by avoiding the Red Devils goalkeeper.
In the top flight this season, the Forest ‘keeper has failed to impress for Cooper’s side beyond saving two of the three penalties that he has faced.
The £100k-per-week flop has conceded ten times from outside the box from 0.6 expected goals, which suggests that he has been extremely unlucky or he is making mistakes with his positioning from long-range strikes. The Athletic’s Richard Amorfa recently Tweeted that the Englishman has been “getting cooked” from distance.
His struggles are illustrated by his disappointing statistics in the Premier League, whilst Pope has caught the eye with a string of impressive displays.
As you can see in the graphic above, the ex-Burnley titan has outperformed Henderson by some distance in multiple key metrics for goalkeepers. The Forest goalkeeper has conceded more goals from outside the box than Pope has from any position on the pitch, whilst their respective SofaScore ratings highlight the gulf in quality between them.
Therefore, Ashworth swerved a big mistake as the Manchester United academy graduate has been underperforming in the Premier League this season and the signing he opted to make has been a roaring success so far.