Wise to Newcastle – why?

Newcastle United have agreed a compensation package with Leeds United to obtain the services of the current Leeds manager, Dennis Wise. The role he is going to undertake at Newcastle is as yet unspecified, but is believed to be an executive role, looking after transfers amongst other things. To all intents and purposes it appears that he will be Director of Football for the Tyneside club.

Two questions immediately spring to mind. Why would Wise want to leave a managers role in which he is doing well, to take on a less hands on role under Kevin Keegan? Why would Newcastle wish to appoint a young and relatively inexperienced manager to such a role?

The answer to neither of these questions is immediately obvious.

Dennis Wise enjoyed a successful playing career as a rottweiller like midfield player. He was part of the original ‘Crazy Gang’ at Wimbledon, and then went on to make over 300 appearances for Chelsea. His playing career saw him win three FA Cups, a League cup, a European Cup Winners Cup, and twenty-one international caps.

Since finishing his playing career, apart from a short spell at Coventry, Wise has worked as a manager. He started at Millwall where he achieved a modicum of success, taking them to an FA Cup final. However, he resigned after little more than a year in the role, citing a disagreement with the new chairman at the club.

In May 2006, Swindon Town gave Wise the chance to resurrect his managerial career, giving him a three year contract. Just five months later, having been in charge for only seventeen games, Wise walked out on Swindon to take over as manager of Leeds.

His declared that he was at Leeds for the long term, with a plan to take them back to the Premier League. In his first season he was unable to reverse their fortunes and they found themselves relegated to League One. Wise kept his job despite the relegation, and has brought Leeds into contention for promotion back to the Championship even though they received a fifteen point penalty for going into administration.

Now, after just fifteen months in this job, he appears to be walking away from Leeds to take up this executive role at Newcastle.

When Wise arrived at Leeds, his appointment was greeted with anger by a section of the Elland Road faithfull. Wise had never been a popular player with the Leeds fans, and they had wanted a more experienced manager to save them from their decline.

Now, with Leeds on the verge of some success he has walked away. I think it would be wise for him to stay away from Elland Road in the future!

So why has he taken the role? I can only think of three possible reasons. He may just want to work with Kevin Keegan again. He speaks very highly of Keegan, who gave him the majority of his England caps, as a manager and a man. He may be going because he is going to be paid a whole lot more money. The only other possible reason I can think of is that he will enjoy walking out on the Leeds fans who have given him such a hard time since he arrived.

Dennis Wise appears to be a man who loves the day to day involvement with the players. He loves the banter and the training. If his new role is one of a purely executive nature, I cannot believe it will keep him satisfied for long.

Why have Newcastle made the appointment? This is an even more difficult one to answer. If they rate Wise highly, then I could see why they may appoint him as manager and have Keegan as Director of Football. Appointing them the other way round makes no sense. If they think he is a future manager for the club, then surely a coaching role alongside Keegan would be more appropriate. Keegan himself has said that he sees Alan Shearer, who may also have a role to play, as the future manager of Newcastle.

Many Newcastle fans, like the Leeds fans before them, have reacted angrily to the news. They simply cannot understand this decision.

Wise’s record as a manager shows him in the role for little more than three years, with only an FA Cup final appearance to his name. Even that was achieved with a run to Cardiff which saw them avoid higher league opponents until the final. During that time he has walked away from three clubs.

It may turn out to be a master stroke and the Keegan and Wise team could be the dream ticket that the Toon Army have been waiting for. Together with many of the Geordie fans, I remain to be convinced.

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  1. Hugo Steckelmacher 29 January, 2008
  2. Graham Fisher 29 January, 2008
  3. BD Condell 30 January, 2008
  4. Fifth Column 31 January, 2008