On yet another day of peculiar drama on Tyneside, the Leeds United manager, Dennis Wise, emerged as Newcastle United's latest managerial appointment. Less than a fortnight after Kevin Keegan was surprisingly brought back to St James' Park, Wise resigned from his post at Elland Road and will be announced today as the head of a new management tier at Newcastle. Wise's role remains untitled as yet but is expected to include the words "football development".
At no point, Newcastle are stressing, will Wise cut across Keegan's first-team responsibilities and Keegan knew of his potential involvement before accepting his old job again. Wise will not be in the Newcastle dugout, and will effectively have a desk job. Wise's view of the position may differ and Leeds' chairman, Ken Bates, last night spoke of Wise "bettering himself".
Keegan was relaxed on the matter, though reluctant to divulge detail. He referred questions to Newcastle's chairman, Chris Mort, who was in London, where Newcastle go back to Arsenal in the league tonight after their FA Cup defeat on Saturday. "I am very happy," Keegan said of the Wise development. "That is a fact. I have just spoken to Chris before I came here and I knew where everyone would go, but really it is a distraction we do not need today – and that's not a distraction in a negative sense. We are a team who have a very important match, that is what I have concentrated on.
"I understand why the press are asking, but that's why you have to ring Chris Mort. I am not going to get drawn into it because it is absolutely pointless at this stage. I said to him [Mort] that it leaves it open to interpretation but until Chris tells you exactly what it is... I think when he tells you it will be self-explanatory."
Asked if he was reassured by conversations with Mort and the club's owner, Mike Ashley, regarding Wise, Keegan replied: "Yes, yes."
Newcastle paid off a raft of management when Ashley bought out Freddy Shepherd, the previous chairman, and this is a first step towards replenishing staffing levels. Wise may seem an unlikely appointment, but he is said to be disenchanted with being a front-line manager.
Wise, who was brought from Swindon Town by Bates in October 2006, will prepare Leeds for one last game tonight at Southend United, but Bates said "it wouldn't be appropriate" for Wise to go to Roots Hall.
"I wasn't surprised," Bates added of the move. "There had been a story a while ago. Newcastle approached us last Friday and after we got the assurances we wanted [compensation of £1m approximately] I told Dennis he could talk to them.
"He rang me and told me he would like to take it and in football you don't stand in the way of people who want to better themselves. He apologised for giving us such short notice, but said it was too good an opportunity to miss."
Speculation fell on who Bates will appoint as Wise's successor. Glenn Hoddle is an obvious candidate, and another former England manager, Steve McClaren, may be interested.
Following Wise to Newcastle will be two comparatively unknown figures, but Tony Jimenez and Jeff Vetere should not be dismissed lightly. They are expected to be equally influential and within football some say they already are. According to at least one major agency, Jimenez was last week in touch to say that he has a mandate to represent Newcastle United on transfer dealings.
A former London property developer who has dealings with Ashley, Jimenez is said to be close to the former Tottenham director Paul Kemsley and, with contacts in Seville, played a role in bringing Juande Ramos to White Hart Lane last autumn. It has been reported that Jimenez represented Ramos in England.
Through a connection at Chelsea, Jimenez also knew Gustavo Poyet, now Ramos's assistant at Tottenham, and also Wise. Poyet, of course, was Wise's assistant at Leeds and Swindon.
Vetere was once an apprentice at Luton Town, then the youth team manager of Rushden & Diamonds, but his journey upwards took him to Charlton Athletic as "overseas scouting co-ordinator" and his growing reputation was such that he moved last January to Real Madrid.
He and Jimenez are already working and were together at the Everton-Chelsea League Cup semi-final at Goodison Park last Wednesday.Reuse content