The manager of Millwall, Dennis Wise, believes his old friend Ken Bates will bring success back to Leeds United.
Bates was the chairman throughout Wise's 11-year spell at Chelsea, and the pair remain close. Before tomorrow's Championship game between Millwall and Leeds at the New Den, the former England international believes Leeds supporters will soon enjoy more glory under the control of the 73-year-old Bates.
"Ken Bates has made a difference to Leeds," Wise said. "He can turn them into another Chelsea. He has gone there and given [the Leeds manager] Kevin Blackwell what he wants. That is good for Leeds - but there is a difference between Leeds and Millwall.
"Leeds can expect crowds of 35,000, whereas we usually get only 9,000 or 10,000 people at the Den. That means we have to work within a certain budget."
Wise refused to comment on reports that his relationship with Bates will see him leave Millwall to replace Blackwell as Leeds manager at the end of the campaign. But the 38-year-old midfielder cast envious glances in the direction of Bates's new club, who managed to secure the services of three players Wise believed would have improved his team immensely.
The striker Rob Hulse, 25, has scored three goals in as many matches since moving to Elland Road on loan from West Bromwich Albion last month, while the 27-year-old midfielder Shaun Derry - signed from Crystal Palace - and the left-back Michael Gray, 30, who is on-loan from Blackburn Rovers, have also made positive impressions.
Wise requested all three players before they moved to West Yorkshire - only to be told by the board at Millwall that the required funds were not available.
"Rob Hulse has a lot of quality, and there were a number of people after him - he was one who we fancied," Wise said. "He is a goalscorer: strong, quick and mobile. He will be a threat to a number of teams. Shaun Derry was another player we were after. And Michael Gray was another player I wanted to go for."
Wise has become disheartened by a lack of room for manoeuvre in the transfer market since Jeff Burnige was named as successor to the current chairman, Theo Paphitis, who steps down at the end of the campaign.
As well as missing out on his transfer targets, Wise saw the striker Scott Dobie - who joined the club from West Bromwich Albion only last November - sold to Nottingham Forest last week against his wishes.
Leeds have been boosted by the loan signing of the Nottingham Forest striker Marlon King. The 24-year-old Jamaica international has fallen out of favour at the City Ground following Gary Megson's arrival and he is Blackwell's fifth signing in the past month. King will go straight into the squad for tomorrow's game.Reuse content