Date: 24th May 2012 at 9:15pm
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It was something of an open secret anyway, but Arsenal today announced that Arsenal Reserve Manager Neil Banfield has been promoted to the role of First Team Coach. Banfield has been taking coaching duties at the club since 1998 when he Managed the U-14 side.

After the work he performed with the academy, he was promoted to Reserve Team Manager in 2004 when previous incumbent Eddie Niedzwiecki left to take the Assistant Manager’s role at Blackburn. Banfield has worked with the Reserve Team since, but has now been promoted.

Bosnian coach Boro Primorac is to take a reduced role with his 58th birthday approaching. Primorac had always been Wenger’s man in the stands at games and his tactical sounding board. It’s also widely thought that he had great input on the training ground.

Banfield has forged his reputation as a training ground coach and somebody players respond to. It will be interesting if he becomes Arsene’s eye in the sky in the way Primorac always has been. Many ex players speak of being closer to Primorac than they were to Wenger and Banfield apparently shares that training ground popularity with the Reserves.

On his promotion, Banfield said, ‘I am absolutely delighted, it is a dream come true,” he told the official website. “To think I am now going to be first-team coach? well I pinch myself sometimes. I am really looking forward to it.

“The manager invited me into his office, and with Steve Bould going up to be assistant manager I thought that he may have pulled me in to explain his decision. To me it was a logical move anyway, but I thought it was nice of him to explain it to me.

“Then he told me he wanted me to become first-team coach, and you could have knocked me over. I was a bit gobsmacked to be honest, but after the initial surprise and sense of achievement inside, I was just delighted.”


And on the chance to join long time cohort Steve Bould in working with the first team, Banfield added, ‘I have known Steve since he took the Under-12s – we have had some laughs and he has worked extremely hard at his coaching and is an extremely good coach,”

“We think the same way, and while we have our differences on things, we are very flexible. We listen and have the same coaching philosophy, the same firmness and the same direction and hopefully we can take that on together in the first team.

“When you look at someone like myself, who came in to take over the Under-14s and Steve the Under-12s, you can see the Club has a very strong coaching ethic, and that comes from the manager.’


But Banfield recognised his new role meant different priorities; ‘We can’t get away from the fact we are in a results business, winning leagues and cups, and there is a different edge to it. We are now coaching to win games, and that is a different mindset.

“I am demanding but patient. One of the biggest things is being honest with players. They know they will get honesty from me, they won’t get any flannel: it will be straight down the line, good and bad. They know I am trying to help them
.”

Best of luck to Neil in his new role. The club added that the recruitment process to backfill Bould and Banfield’s old roles is currently under way and an announcement would be made once it has been completed.