• Alexander Moneypenny

Who are Carlos Cuesta and Miguel Molina?

The new season draws ever closer, and as expected, Mikel Arteta has made some changes to his backroom staff in preparation for the 2020/21 campaign.

Earlier on today, Arsenal released a statement outlining Mikel Arteta’s first big moves to reshape his coaching group. As well as the previously announced departure of Freddie Ljungberg, there is also an exit for first team physio Chris Morgan who’s moved on to Liverpool, and for Sal Bibbo, assistant GK coach, after 5 years at the club. It was also widely reported that Brentford’s set pieces coach, Andreas Georgson had joined from Brentford, adding to Steve Round and Albert Stuivenberg as a first team assistant, but the club have also confirmed two more additions in Carlos Cuesta and Miguel Molina. So who exactly are these particularly pleasingly monikered men?

We’ll start with Carlos Cuesta, who joins as First Team Individual Development coach. Cuesta is a particularly interesting case, and at 24 years old, must be one of the youngest assistants in Premier League history - younger, indeed, than 19 members of Arsenal’s first team squad. The Spaniard began his footballing career as a player at Santa Catalina Atlético, a club in Palma de Mallorca, while also coaching the younger teams. At 18 he decided to stop playing, take his coaching badges, and began to learn English, Italian and French. After moving to Madrid to study Sports Science, he looked for work on Twitter by following members of Atletico & Real Madrid’s coaching staff, and tweeting them, asking them for work. He even offered to put the cones out.

This tenacity, he says, is vital. “You can get what you want if you really look for the opportunities and don't focus on the problems," he says. As a younger man this including sending letters to Jose Mourinho, begging to watch some sessions… which were not answered.

From there, Cuesta has gone on what seems like a bit of a world tour, trying to learn from the best coaches in the world at some of the best clubs in the world, including Juventus, through sheer tenacity. It seems a meeting set up through a mutual contact with Guardiola (and Arteta by proxy) at Manchester City has turned Mikel’s head suitably to hire him. He is full of praise for Mikel too, saying “Mikel Arteta will be a great coach… he is able to verify the importance of details in elite training sessions and in game analysis.” in a February 2019 interview with El Pais [in Spanish]. The concept, he says, is simple. “Listen, and improve.” Let’s hope that translates onto the pitch - his ultimate goal is to win the Champions League like childhood teammate Marco Asensio. Keep dreamin’ kid.

Miguel Molina (not to be confused with the Ferrari GT driver) is a bit more of a straightforward appointment. There is a bit of a lack of information on him online - his LinkedIn bio appears to have him last at Atletico 3 years ago, with the in-between time spent at various universities and scholarly institutions. You know the type. He was previously a high performance coach at Atletico Madrid, and supposedly specialises in “the analysis of player decision making process, optimizing individual performance & development through analysis”. Sounds like jargon to me - I think it basically means making the players better, which is, you know… good. As a high performance coach he will be responsible for getting the players to the fitness levels that Arteta demands to play his system, and I could think of no better team for that purpose to pinch someone from than Atletico. Their ferocious press and collective fitness is a hallmark of the team, so if he can help us get the player fitter, that can only be a good thing.

Overall, two really exciting appointments - look forward to hearing more about them. Great for Arteta to have Spanish natives working alongside him as well - hopefully it contributes to his comfortability at the club.

Another podcast on Monday - until then, thanks for reading.

Alexander Moneypenny