Wise set to concentrate on management

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The Independent Football

Dennis Wise has revealed he intends to bring the curtain down on his playing career next year. By then the 37-year-old former England midfielder could be enjoying the twin delights of European football and the Premiership stage.

Dennis Wise has revealed he intends to bring the curtain down on his playing career next year. By then the 37-year-old former England midfielder could be enjoying the twin delights of European football and the Premiership stage.

Wise was a surprise choice last November when he was named the new Millwall player-manager after Mark McGhee was shown the door. It has, however, proved to be an inspired appointment by ambitious chairman Theo Paphitis.

Wise, along with his right-hand man, Ray Wilkins, steered the club into the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in 67 years on Tuesday night when they beat Tranmere Rovers 2-1 away from home. They face First Division rivals Sunderland at Old Trafford on 4 April.

For the winners there is the incentive of a Uefa Cup place as Champions' League contenders Arsenal and Manchester United meet in the semi-final.

With promotion also a possibility, Wise has already made plans to concentrate fully on the management end of the business. "I have another year left on my playing contract, so that will probably be that," he said.

"If I need to pack it in before, Ray has promised he will tell me. He is very straight, he is a top bloke and I would have been lost without him."

Wise believes the key to Millwall's success lies with his honesty to the staff. "I was at the club for a year before taking the job and it helps, " he said.

"People say it is difficult to make that transition. But I haven't changed anything in the way I am with the players. I am very honest with them.I think they appreciate that.

"We have tried to be a bit more professional. On the organisational side the personnel now know what is expected of them and what they have to do.

"They have got themselves going which is fantastic. They are a good bunch. It is great working with them. I like to have a bit of fun, but they know there is a serious side to me as well.

"When it is time for them to listen, they listen. When it's time to have a joke, we will have a joke. We make it fun."

Paphitis is delighted with the way Wise has shaped the team. "There is no question Dennis would be able to manage at the top level. His tactical nous and ability to work with the players is the best of any manager I have worked with," he said.

"We are Millwall and expect to lose our good players and sometimes our manager to big clubs. Hopefully this success will allow us to hold on to people."

Wise is determined his players forget about the possibility of playing in Europe and concentrate on their domestic campaign, starting with the derby against West Ham on Sunday.

"At the moment we haven't done anything," he added. "We are in the semi-finals but it would be very nice to achieve something.

"We have a great opportunity in the league. We have got ourselves in a good position."

Tim Cahill, scorer of the first goal against Tranmere, relishes the Cup - but he also knows that promotion is the priority.

The Australian midfielder, who was watched by Everton and Rangers, is keen to keep Wise's squad together and the only way to do that is to go up.

"It's been great to get to the semi-finals, but we want to be in the Premier League," Cahill said. "The only way to keep this side together is to get there."

Cahill has been at Millwall for years and the camaraderie that Wise has brought out is something he does not want to lose.

He said: "Dennis is great with the lads, he treats us well. He is all you want in a manager, charisma, character and a bit of aggression."

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