We have said goodbye to a long-serving and highly valued member of the backroom team this month with the retirement of Mick McGiven.
During his work with Chelsea which began nearly three decades ago, Mick was a youth and reserve team coach before working in the senior set-up, most recently as senior development and opposition scout.
He first came to Chelsea in 1990 to run the youth team, having been a coach and player at West Ham who had bought him from Sunderland to replace Bobby Moore in their defence.
Although his initial spell with us was a short one (he left to re-join his former West Ham boss John Lyall and take charge of Ipswich’s first team), he returned in 1996 to begin a decade in charge of the Chelsea reserve team. In that role he played his part in developing John Terry, as well the likes of Robert Huth, Carlton Cole and many other youngsters who grew into first team players throughout the divisions.
A new position of first-team coach/opposition scout began during Jose Mourinho’s first period as manager with his vast knowledge of the game playing an important part in our trophy successes in the years since.
Here, a selection of the many people Mick worked with during his time at Chelsea pay tribute to his contribution, beginning with Eddie Newton who was firstly one of his players and later a colleague on the staff:
‘Mick was my youth team manager,’ begins Eddie.
‘I remember when he first came in he had a different approach to training, a different way of talking to you than we were used to, which I embraced very quickly as I thought it was a better way with no disrespect to any of the coaches before.
‘He had come from that West Ham school of total football and trying to play football no matter what, not just booting the ball down the pitch. I immediately embraced what he was trying to do and I loved the fact that Mick was here. When he came it was a quick turnaround as a youth team.
‘When I came back here in a first-team coaching capacity, I was sat next to Mick in the office and we would have our chats and we were still on the same page. He would give you little tips as well and you always have to take those from the senior coach. He knows football from back to front and he is a genuine man so when he tells you something, you tend to listen.
‘He is a top man and he was part of the Champions League winning team, people may not recognise that but he was part of many trophies we won because first-team opposition scout is a very important job so the managers and coaches can dial in to the next game and be aware of the dangers
and what you can exploit. He was very important and part of the team.'
Gianfranco Zola joined Chelsea in 1996 to find Mick a prominent member of the backroom team for whom he ended up appearing…
‘I was not playing much during the second year of Claudio Ranieri as manager so I asked to play with the reserve team and Mick was the coach. I don’t think he enjoyed me playing there because I think the first two games we played, we lost both of them!
‘But it was great, and he is a great person, a gentleman and I always enjoyed interacting with him. He has been a magnificent servant of the club so I think he will be very missed and rightly so.
‘People like that are important and sometimes there are people who don’t figure so much in public but they do a lot of work, they are the foundations, they keep the club standing up. You don’t see them but without them the house goes down and he was one of them. I wish him all the best.’
Jon Harley, now a coach in our Academy, was one of the players who came through Mick’s reserves into the senior side...
‘I think my day one coming into the club having left school was his day one coming in full-time as reserve team coach.
‘It was different back then. There was a bigger mix of players in the reserves. Mick had predominantly young players but with other seasoned players who were not involved with the first team at the time like David Rocastle.
‘Sometime it would be the youth team and sometimes Ruud Gullit would turn up with new signings like Tore Andre Flo and Celestine Babayaro! It was mixed and that was something Mick managed really well whether it was a young player or senior player coming in, keeping everyone together as a team.
‘I remember during games he had this deep voice you would hear all the time but Mick was really good to me. I was never one to say if I had an injury or if I was not feeling well and I would try to play through it. Often it was at the detriment of my performance and a couple of times Mick would put his arm around me and try to find out what was wrong and eventually he realised and told me you need to go home. His man-management of me was good.’
Graeme Le Saux was another senior player who appreciated Mick’s work behind the scenes…
‘Mick was one of those characters, he always had a smile on his face around the training ground, he was a positive influence on everyone. He loved the club and did some great work across different departments.
‘He has a really good eye for talented players and was an all-round good person. He just got on with his work, he never wanted to be the focus of attention. He was always there in a support role and was always there if you needed a word with him. I don’t think he will be that easy to replace as he had such a bank of experience that he will be missed by those he worked with.’
One of those is our current head of match analysis/opposition scout James Melbourne…
‘I’ve worked with Mick since 2006 and have learnt a great deal from him, not just technically but also on a personal level about professionalism, attitude and commitment. It was a privilege working with him for over 10 years, mainly in the area of opposition scouting.
‘It was a true footballing education from a person with such vast experience in the game. Always supportive, he gave great advice and points of view, and had an incredible commitment to the work.
‘Thanks for everything Mick and enjoy your retirement!’
Those are sentiments shared by us all.