Neil Banfield Settles into a New Role Within Rangers FC's First Team
Arsene Wenger had Neil Banfield as his trusted training ground lieutenant at Arsenal – now the experienced Englishman will be a key part of the Michael Beale revolution at Rangers. Beale’s Ibrox return, after he played a crucial role as Steven Gerrard’s no2 when Gers won their 55th league title in Scotland and halted Celtic’s bid for 10-in-a-row, will be a fascinating watch.
And 60-year-old Football Careers client Neil will be at the eye of the storm as Beale’s First Team Coach in Glasgow as the blue half of the city face the daunting challenge of overhauling a six-point gap to Ange Postecoglou’s champions that cost Giovanni van Bronckhorst his job. Banfield, though, is no stranger to pressure situations after flourishing in the Gunners Academy and winning two FA Youth Cups and league titles with the U17 and U19 teams as he played a prominent role in the development of a galaxy of stars at the London giants.
Now Neil is relishing the adventure ahead and he reasoned:
“You can feel the passion that is within the club and the drive and determination to be successful. You get used to working with the pressure of a high-intensity club and you can feel it straight away when you walk in the door here at Rangers.”
As a player Banfield was in the England Under-18 side that won the European Championships in 1980. He went on to play for the likes of Leyton Orient but has really made his name as a highly respected coach, one who signed a lanky attacker called Michael Beale when he was Head of Youth at Charlton Athletic. Neil recalled:
“Michael was a 14-year-old, young, gangly left winger back then. We both went our own ways but we always kept in touch.”
Beale left Ibrox with Gerrard when the Liverpool legend made his ill-fated move to Aston Villa in the Premiership but one of the game’s most prized coaching talents was then lured away to be a boss in his own right at Championship side Queen’s Park Rangers.
Michael got off to a flyer before a mini slump ahead of the Qatar break saw the Rs in seventh slot after 22 games under their new gaffer. Gers then took the leap of faith to bring Beale back to Glasgow and Banfield was never going to turn down the chance to come with him. Neil stressed:
“I’ve watched Michael grow as a coach and we reconnected at QPR. All throughout his career, he was at Chelsea with a good friend of mine, Dermott Drummy. He was given the opportunity to be QPR manager and he invited me to be part of his backroom staff. It’s been a really enjoyable journey. We’ve dovetailed really well together.”
“There are some great young players coming through the academy. The squad as a whole have been very receptive to what the manager wants to do and the intensity.
“I think they’re enjoying the training that Michael has put on. We can see there’s a good future for us here.”