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Dennis Frank Wise (born 16 December 1966 in Kensingtonmarker, West London) is an Englishmarker former football manager and player, and former Executive Director (Football) at Newcastle United F.C..

Wise played as a central midfielder and was noted for his aggressive and highly-competitive style of play. In a career spanning over 20 years, he played for Wimbledon, Leicester City, Millwall, Southampton, Coventry City and, most notably, Chelsea. During his time at Stamford Bridgemarker, Wise won many trophies and he was the club's most successful captain until the 2009 FA Cup Final when John Terry lifted the cup (He has won 7 trophies)

He also played at international level for much of his career, representing England over a period of ten years. Wise won 21 caps and scored once, on his debut against Turkey on 1 May 1991. He was in the national squad for Euro 2000 and played in all three group games, against Portugal (lost 2–3), Germany (won 1–0) and Romania (lost 2–3).

In the latter years of his playing career, Wise gradually became involved in the managerial aspects of the game, starting at Millwall, where he took on the role of player-manager. He was briefly caretaker manager at Southampton, following the departure of Harry Redknapp, before he took over the reins at Swindon Town on a permanent basis. In October 2006, he was appointed manager of the then-Championship side Leeds United, who found themselves in the relegation zone. Although they were ultimately relegated, Wise reshaped his side in the close season and Leeds made an excellent start to their first season in the third tier of English football.

In a surprise career move, despite their strong position and likelihood of promotion, Wise left Leeds in January 2008 to join the newly reshaped management team at Newcastle United in an executive role, tasked with travelling around Europe and further afield identifying young players and developing the academy. Wise left Newcastle on 1 April 2009.

Playing career


Wise started his career as an apprentice with Southampton, but was left without a club after he fell out with manager Lawrie McMenemy. He moved to Wimbledon on 28 March 1985, at the age of 18 and remained at Plough Lanemarker for over 5 years as Wimbledon consolidated their position in Division One, having risen from Division Four in only four years. He was a member of the Wimbledon "Crazy Gang" that defeated hot favourites Liverpool 1-0 at Wembleymarker in the 1988 FA Cup Final and supplied the cross from a free kick from which Lawrie Sanchez scored the winning goal.


He signed for Chelsea on 3 July 1990 for a then-club record fee of £1.6 million and his time there would span 11 years, from 19902001. In his time at Chelsea the combative midfielder became the player with the 4th most appearances in the club's history, featuring 445 times and scoring 76 goals, including a memorable Champions League equaliser in the San Siromarker against A.C. Milan in 1999. He was also Chelsea's top scorer in the 1991–92 season with 14 goals from his midfield role. Wise captained the Chelsea teams that won the FA Cup in 1997 and 2000, the League Cup in 1998 and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1998. He was also twice voted club player of the year, in 1998 and 2000. With new manager Claudio Ranieri seeking to lower the average age of the Chelsea squad, he was sold to Leicester City on 25 June 2001 for £1.6 million.

Wise always remained a controversial figure, leading Sir Alex Ferguson to say that he could "start a fight in an empty house". His time at Chelsea was tarnished by disciplinary problems and unsavoury off-the-field incidents. In 1995 he was convicted of assaulting a Londonmarker taxi-driver, and given a three-month prison sentence, which was later overturned on appeal. Nonetheless, the incident still saw him stripped of the Chelsea captaincy by manager Glenn Hoddle. In April 1999, he was accused of "biting" Marcelino Elena of RCD Mallorca in a Cup Winners' Cup tie, and in the 1998–99 season he missed a total of 15 games through suspension.

Leicester City

Wise's time at Leicester was less successful and equally marred by controversy. He made just 17 league appearances, scoring once against Liverpool, and was sent home from a pre-season tour of Finlandmarker and suspended by the club on 20 July 2002, after breaking the nose and jaw of team-mate Callum Davidson, who was trying to act as a peacemaker in a dispute between Wise and another player.

As a result of the assault, Wise was sacked by the club for serious misconduct on 2 August. Surprised by the dismissal, he then appealed against the decision. The Football League later ruled that Wise had been treated too harshly by Leicester and the maximum punishment should be a fine of two weeks' wages. The tribunal's order that he be reinstated led the club to launch an appeal against the decision, which they won on 18 September.

Wise then went on to sue Leicester for more than £2.36 million in lost earnings in October, later receiving death threats (the club were £30 million in debt and in danger of administration). In a match against Leicester in November 2002, in which the visiting fans were banned from The New Denmarker, Wise avenged his sacking by scoring an equaliser in a 2–2 draw.


Wise then signed for Millwall on 24 September 2002 and became player-manager in 2003. Millwall were the first team from outside the top flight to reach the FA Cup final since 1992 when Wise led them to the their first ever FA Cup Final in 2004. The First Division side lost to reigning Premiership champions Manchester United by 3-0. Despite losing, Millwall qualified for a place in the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history, as United had already qualified for the Champions League. They were knocked out in the first round by Hungarianmarker champions Ferencvaros. He resigned at the end of the 2004–05 season, citing a disagreement with the new chairman as his motive.


Wise returned to Southampton on a free transfer on 27 June 2005 and made 12 appearances for the club. With the resignation of Harry Redknapp, he was briefly joint-caretaker manager of the club with Dave Bassett. However, he left St Mary'smarker on 26 December, when George Burley was appointed as the new manager. He scored once in the league for Southampton, in a 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town.

Coventry City

It was not long before Wise was playing again, as he signed a short-term "pay-as-you-play" deal with Coventry City on 19 January 2006. He joined up once again with Micky Adams, who had been his manager whilst he was at Leicester. He made an emphatic start, beginning his spell with Coventry by scoring a goal in each of his first three games with the club. On 9 May, out-of-contract Wise was released from the Ricoh Arenamarker, along with fellow veteran Richard Shaw.

Managerial career

Swindon Town

On 22 May 2006, Wise was appointed Swindon Town manager on a three-year contract, with ex-Chelsea team mate Gustavo Poyet as his assistant. He made an excellent start to the season by winning 6 out of 7 games and topping the League Two table with 18 points after a 2-0 away win against Chester City on 1 September. As a result of this tremendous start, Wise was awarded the Manager of the Month award.

Wise's first defeat as Swindon boss came against Wrexham in their league clash at the Racecourse Groundmarker. His second defeat and first home defeat in charge of the Robins came against Peterborough United on 16 September 2006. This loss left Swindon second in the table behind Wycombe Wanderers.

Leeds United

On 20 September 2006, Wise was linked with the vacant Leeds United managerial post, following the sacking of Kevin Blackwell. On 21 October, Swindon gave Wise, and his assistant Poyet, permission to speak to Leeds, following their request. However, talks broke down between the clubs when they were unable to agree a suitable financial package and on 23 October, Swindon withdrew permission for Leeds to talk with, or seek to appoint, Wise and Poyet, stating that "Dennis and Gus remain valued members of Swindon Town FC as both players and part of the management team". In a bid to keep hold of the pair, the club offered them both significantly improved terms. Later that day, Swindon confirmed that they had reached a suitable financial settlement package with Leeds for the services of Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet and that they looked set to join. Following the successful negotiation of acceptable compensation in line with the expectations of Swindon Town, on 24 October, the boards of both clubs officially confirmed that Dennis Wise, Gus Poyet and Andrew Beasley had joined Leeds United as manager, assistant manager and goalkeeping coach respectively.

On the evening of his arrival, Wise watched from the stands at Elland Roadmarker as he saw his new side crash to a 3-1 defeat in the Carling Cup against fellow Championship side Southend United. He received a standing ovation from fans and in a press conference unveiling him to the media, he said that he believed that it did not matter that he formerly played for Chelsea. In the interview he stated that his aim was to bring Leeds back into the Premiership. His first action as manager was to replace captain Paul Butler and his vice-captain Gary Kelly with the feisty, hard-tackling midfielder Kevin Nicholls, along with Shaun Derry as his deputy.

Wise's first game in charge came 4 days later, ironically against Southend at Elland Road again, though this time it was a league fixture and Leeds won the game 2-0. However, they continued to struggle for the remainder of the season under Wise and relegation was confirmed on 4 May 2007 with only one game remaining, when the Football League gave the club a 10-point penalty for going into administration. Leeds finished bottom of the league and they were relegated into League One for the first time in their history. Nonetheless, chairman Ken Bates retained Wise for the 2007–08 season.

On 4 August, Leeds were granted their golden share, but they were given another penalty, this time 15 points, after administrators KPMG refused to resurrect the CVA for the 'old' Leeds United company. Despite this, they made an excellent start, winning their first 7 league games and Wise was named as manager of the month for both August and September. However, on 29 October 2007, Poyet left Leeds to become Juande Ramos's assistant at Tottenham. Three days later, Wise's ex-manager at Wimbledon, Dave Bassett, became his number two. The partnership did not start well and Leeds finally lost their unbeaten record, losing 3-1 to Carlisle United at Brunton Parkmarker on 3 November.

Leeds briefly topped the table on Boxing Day, after drawing 1-1 in an early kick-off against Hartlepool United at the Victoria Groundmarker and they went into 2008 3rd in the league.Wise left the club on 28 January 2008 in a surprise move to take up a role at Newcastle United, his last game in charge being a 1–1 draw against Luton Town at Kenilworth Roadmarker on 26 January.

Executive roles

Newcastle United

On 29 January 2008 Newcastle United announced that Wise would be joining the club as Executive Director (Football), an advisor to the board on footballing matters, reporting directly to the club chairman Chris Mort. Although speculated to be in the role of Director of Football or General Manager, the job is thought to be more restricted, involving transfers, scouting and youth development, alongside simultaneous appointment of Tony Jimenez as Vice President (Player Recruitment) and Jeff Vetere as Technical Co-ordinator, following the earlier shock return of first team manager Kevin Keegan. Keegan had previously expressed disquiet with the concept of a Director of Football, both in commenting about the previous Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce, and latterly the proposition of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley appointing one during his tenure at the club.

In the surprise career move, Wise had been attributed as having lost interest in direct football management since the loss of his assistant Gustavo Poyet to Tottenham Hotspur, and considered the executive position at Newcastle an opportunity "he had to take". Wise's role, as stated by Ashley, was to be a '"football-related" executive director'. In a February 2008 interview, Christopher Mort revealed that Newcastle had "heard on the grapevine" that Wise was considering a "move upstairs". Wise was selected as his relative youth and being a "bundle of energy" suited the new role that would involve "travelling around Europe and further afield". Wise, with Vetere, was tasked with helping identify young players for approval by first team manager Kevin Keegan. Wise's role would also entail him helping develop the academy.

The departure of Keegan from the club, on 4 September, saw Wise and club owner Ashley come under mounting pressure from the club's supporters to quit. Keegan, a manager with an exalted status among supporters of the club, stated that, "It's my opinion that a manager must have the right to manage and that clubs should not impose upon any manager any player that he does not want," adding that he had "no choice other than to leave". Keegan was furious to discover that James Milner, a player he had previously stated was not for sale, had been allowed to sign a contract with Aston Villa, and he was not given adequate time or funds to bring in new players; Keegan had let his dislike of the management structure be known in the months leading up to his resignation. Speculation of Keegan's resignation built in the days leading up, and a large number of fans began protesting at Ashley's employment of Wise, and his alleged interference. The club issued a statement in response to Keegan's claim, and the widespread belief that Wise was responsible for transfer activity, by saying that Keegan was aware of the structure when he re-joined the club. Thousands of fans protested against Ashley and Wise, dubbed the "cockney mafia", in the 2–1 home defeat to Hull City on 13 September, although neither Ashley nor Wise attended the match. Days later Ashley released an emotional statement in which he announced that he was putting the club up for sale; Wise came in for praise from Ashley, who said that he had successfully scouted and closed out deals for a number of recent signings.

Wise further angered Newcastle United fans when he was shown often attending Chelsea home games (and the FA Cup Final). Later, it was revealed he spent the vital last day of the 2009 season in Dubai celebrating his wife's birthday, showing a surprising disinterest in the outcome of a club in which he had very recently been inolved. In fact all of Wise's signings (Fabricio Coloccini, Jonas Gutierrez, Xisco, Ignacio Gonzalez and Sebastien Bassong) failed to feature in the clubs final game. While Wise's signings have received mixed views from Newcastle fans, television, radio and newspaper pundits have universally slated them as second rate signings.

On 1 April 2009, following the appointment of Alan Shearer as manager on an interim basis, Newcastle released a statement that Wise had left his role as Executive Director of Football with immediate effect. The club also confirmed that there were no plans to replace Wise.

In an interview with the Guardian on 28 July 2009, it was revealed Wise is still receiving £20,000 per week from Newcastle United and was cited as one of the many reasons buyers are reluctant to purchase the club.

After the death of Sir Bobby Robson, The Sun's Bob Harris wrote how Robson told him: "My biggest disappointment was Dennis Wise, a director of football who was hardly seen at the ground, and who brought in players who were neither suitable, nor right, for Newcastle United. I forgive most people, but I am not sure I can forgive Wise for what he did to my club."


As a player

Wimbledon F.C.
Chelsea F.C.
England national football team

As a player-manager

Millwall F.C.

Career statistics

Managerial statistics

Managers' Success Rate is based on wins per 100 games.The statistics include all League, Cup & European first team fixtures.Correct as of 20 September 2008


  2. The Mag Fanzine Issue 224 - 23 February 2008, Interview with Newcastle United chairman Chris Mort, p21-22

External links

1984-85 Wimbledon Second Division 1 0
1985-86 4 0
1986-87 First Division 28 4
1987-88 30 10
1988-89 37 5
1989-90 35 8
1990-91 Chelsea First Division 33 10
1991-92 38 10
1992-93 Premier League 27 3
1993-94 35 4
1994-95 19 6
1995-96 35 7
1996-97 31 3
1997-98 26 3
1998-99 22 0
1999-00 30 4
2000-01 36 3
2001-02 Leicester City Premier League 17 1
2002-03 Millwall First Division 29 3
2003-04 31 1
2004-05 Championship 25 3
2005-06 Southampton Championship 11 1
2005-06 Coventry City Championship 13 6
P W D L Success
Rate %
15 October 2003
9 May 2005
89 36 24 29 40.45
Swindon Town
22 May 2006
24 October 2006
17 9 5 3 52.94
Leeds United
24 October 2006
28 January 2008
99 47 19 33 47.47

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