OK. I’m sorry about the headline-itis there. I was up late last night and I haven’t had my coffee yet 🙂 The transfer market has had some interesting moves in the last few days and I will be back on Feb 1st to recap things. The news I want to discuss right now is the move Newcastle have made to sign Dennis Wise.
Wise has left his role as Leeds manager and is going to be in charge of signing new players and developing Newcastle’s academy. He is not going to be involved in first-team matters but instead is supposed to assist the Newcastle board as an executive director on “football-related” matters. Newcastle cleared out a lot of the previous management team when Mike Ashley bought out Freddy Shepherd and this is a first step towards rebuilding their management team.

The real interest is that new manager Kevin Keegan has apparently had no say in this particular appointment, which many pundits feel he should have. Personally, I don’t agree. A “sporting director” takes a lot of pressure off the first-team manager in terms of transfer negotiations, day-to-day operations of the academy, etc. It’s a common setup in many other countries such as Italy and Spain but has not caught on yet in England. Many still feel that clubs like Arsenal and Manchester United are led by one strong figure but a closer look reveals that both Sir Alex and Arsene are working in tandem with their board and a strong support cast.

It feels like that’s what Newcastle are aiming to do and if that’s the case then it’s a step in the right direction. Whether Dennis Wise is the best person to take on that role is another question as he has only been in management a relatively short time. He started as a player-manager with Milwall in 2004 before moving on to Southampton, Swindon and finally Leeds but he did reasonably well everywhere he went. Wise has apparently been eager to get away from day-to-day management and move into more of an executive role and Newcastle have wanted someone on their board with hands-on football experience so the fit was good from that standpoint.

Newcastle will reportedly compensate Leeds to the tune of £1m. Newcastle will also hire Tony Jimenez as vice-president of player recruitment and Jeff Vetere from Real Madrid as technical co-ordinator. Jimenez is a former London property developer who has reportedly worked with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in the past. Jimenez is said to be close to the former Tottenham director Paul Kemsley and through his contacts in Seville, was involved in bringing Juande Ramos to White Hart Lane.

Vetere was once an apprentice at Luton Town, then the youth team manager of Rushden & Diamonds, but his journey upwards took him to Charlton as “overseas scouting co-ordinator” and his growing reputation was such that he moved last January to Real Madrid. Vetere is regarded as one of the game’s most knowledgeable experts on emerging talent and there were rumours that Keegan was involved in his hiring.

Vetere and Jimenez are already at work for Newcastle and were spotted sitting together recently at the Everton-Chelsea League Cup semi-final at Goodison Park.