Dennis Wise Photo by Paul Lagan
Dennis Wise feels that Antonio Conte’s failure to reach the Champions League and not matching the expectations and ambitions of the club will ultimately cost him his job.
The Blues face Manchester United today in the FA Cup final at Wembley, but the west Londoners finished the league season in fifth spot and will miss out on Europe’s top competition next season.
Wise, 51, made more that 330 games for the Blues and captained them to their FA Cup triumph in 1997 - winning 2-0 against Middlesbrough.
He had a spell as a manager of Millwall, Swindon and Leeds United and so is acutely aware of the pressure and expectations heaped upon Conte.
“I think all managers are under pressure,” he said.
“Not just one, a few of them lost their job this week and it will carry on that way. It’s not just Antonio, it’s everyone. You have to reach certain levels. If you don’t get to them levels, this is football, it’s cut throat and you are out. And it’s as simple as that.
“There are expectations. Different expectations at different clubs. From bottom to the top.
There are certain expectations and you would expect to be in the Champions League spot and challenging for the title and trophies.
“Unfortunately the FA Cup is the only one we are challenging for. The rest we have fallen away from.”
So might Conte fall by his sword by not getting into the top four?
Wise has no encouraging words for Conte. He said: “Look, everyone has to understand that at the start of the season there are things that you have to achieve as a manager. There are expectations on each club. What is Chelsea’s expectation? I would like to think that their expectation, for the money that has been spent and the structure of this football club and the way that it’s done, is that you would like to think you are challenging for the trophy and getting into the Champions League and being close to winning silverware as well.”
Wise was playing last night for a Chelsea Legends side against a useful Inter Forever side and the visitors came away from Stamford Bridge the victors, winning 4-1.
It was also a tribute night for former Blues skipper Ray Wilkins who died suddenly last month.
Wise said: “I’m feeling fine, I lost a bit of weight in the jungle, I think that helped.
“It was lovely out there to be honest. I don’t think we realised how quick and fit they were. They are a lot younger than us, we were giving away quite a few years. But we probably need to do a bit more training. We want to play them again, and we want to have a go. Next time it will be different kind of fitter, stronger team.”
The side was managed by ex-Blues player and boss Gianluca Vialli who recognised that the Italians were up for a fight and to make it tough for his side.
Did Luca try and keep it tight in the first half and them come stronger in the second?
Wise said: “That was what we were intending to do. Well spotted - it didn’t work!
“It is what it is. I think it was all about the occasion. People coming to watch but also it was about Ray Wilkins - that was important.”
Wise is known for the great goal he scored at the San Siro, and almost scored a great goal in the game.
“I should have scored,” he said.
“The funny thing is I pulled my thigh two weeks ago in training, and I played anyway. But I was struggling, and just as I made the run, it completely went. And it was one of those where I thought ‘I was nearly there’. The adrenaline makes you carry on for some reason. But it was great to be out there.”
There was 28,155 supporters in Stamford Bridge.
“I just want to say thanks to the crowd for coming,” said Wise. “We have a cup final today. And for them to come out in the way they did was fantastic.”
Wise is no longer actively involved in football.
He said: “I’m into property - I came out of the game a long time ago because I wanted to see my kids grow up.
“I remember speaking to (his old boss at Wimbledon) Dave Bassett when I was at Leeds. Not many people knew this but I was ready to put my notice in to come out of the game. People said ‘you put your notice in, but you went to Newcastle?’.
“I went to Newcastle because (owner) Mike (Ashley) said we only want you up there a certain amount of time a week, but I need things sorting out. And that’s why I kinda ended up there.
“I had asked Bassett to tell me something he regretted and he said ‘I was 68 years old I have a daughter 31 another 32, and I never saw them grow up. You are in a different position to me Dennis, don’t let that happen.’ You know what, that kinda stuck in my head a little bit. Football is 24/7. I loved it when I was in it. I loved it when I was managing. But it comes to the stage where you think the family comes first.”
Conte may very well be spending more time with his family very soon.