Exclusive: How ‘underdog’ Wise is using Chelsea experience to help build Como 1907

Regarded as a legend of Chelsea, it came as a surprise to some when Dennis Wise became the head of sports operations at Italian club Como 1907 in May 2019.

The move followed an ownership takeover led by UK-based media and entertainment company SENT Entertainment Ltd, who are backed financially by Indonesia tobacco industry giant Djarum.

At the time, Como won the Serie D league with an all-time points record and looked forward to a bright future under their new owners.

The club navigated the tumultuous Covid-19 period exceptionally well, winning the Serie C title in 2021.

Central to Como reaching the Italian second-tier is the work of Wise, who played over 330 league games for Chelsea.

The 55-year-old, also capped 21 times for England, has previous managerial experience with Leeds United, Millwall and Swindon Town, as well as a short spell as a director at Newcastle United.

Mirwan Suwarso, official representative of Mola TV, part of the ownership at Como, has told TribalFootball.com that it was Wise’s experience as an “underdog” that led to his hiring.

“I think just like in any big club you always have the one who understands about football more than others,” Suwarso said. “Football directors, like Marotta in Juventus and then Inter, someone who knows more. I think Dennis is in a very unique position, we knew Dennis from our collaboration in the youth program that we worked together for the Indonesian boys.

Wise on the sidelines with Leeds

“As a player he was an underdog, very short right? But he was one of the best midfielders in England even despite his physical size and I love that picture of him standing up to Patrick Vieira, who is almost double his size and he was not afraid.

“He’s the only manager who ever took a second division side to the final of an FA Cup final. He was always an underdog and when we look at Como we are the ultimate underdog (laughs, nda). We like that attitude, we even like his attitude and that shaped up really well as he does his job in Como.”

Wise was promoted to the sole director of football at the club in February 2021, taking over broader responsibilities from Michael Gandler.

Como currently sit 12th in Serie B and the goal remains to trust Wise by building the squad from the ground up.

Due to Italian football rules, the club is unable to sign players from outside the EU, which prevented them from acquiring former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere last January.

And Surwaso says Wise has been entrusted with building a sustainable recruitment program.

Wise after winning the Community Shield with Chelsea in 2000

“As you can see we didn’t buy anybody, we try to bring people from where we were before and we are now in Serie B and Gabrielloni last week scored two goals and he was our top scorer in Serie D,” Surwaso added.

“We have Bellemo, who was our captain in Serie C as well and we would like to have that sustainability by giving people belief and giving them a chance and I think that’s what the club is all about.

“We’re trying to build together and not just buy the best players and move on, because then what if it doesn’t work? Then it just becomes a very expensive problem that we may have.

“This is Dennis’ way, he believes chemistry is very important, he picks the right players, the right team, between Dennis and Charlie Ludi they try to create an environment that tries to bring out the best from everybody.

“It will take time to understand that, especially now in Serie B, it’s very tough the competition, there are so many good players, so many good teams but we believe in him. We are now in 11th place, probably at the beginning of the season everybody would have seen us in the last place. Hopefully we can stay there and next year we build from there and so on.”

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