Everton manager Rafa Benitez believes Demarai Gray must add consistency to his game after the new signing marked his Toffees debut with a goal in the pre-season clash with Millonarios, speaking to the club’s official website.
It’s fair to say the arrivals of Demarai Gray, Andros Townsend and Asmir Begovic did not exactly capture the imagination on Gwadlys Street.
The aforementioned trio joined Everton for a combined sum of less than £2 million after all.
But if they had a point to prove during Benitez’s managerial debut against Colombian outfit Millonarios in Bogota, prove it they certainly did.
Townsend hit the bar with a brilliant curling effort, while Begovic scored and then saved a pair of penalties in the shoot-out. The veteran shot-stopper had Gray to thank for taking the game to the death in the first place, the former Leicester City winger cancelling out Millonairos’ first-half opener.
A dream debut for Everton winger Demarai Gray
Former England U21 international Gray will be desperate to make up for lost time at Goodison Park having fallen down the pecking order under Brendan Rodgers at Leicester.
And, in Benitez, he will be working for a coach who has admired him from afar for some time now.
The one-time Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss knows his strengths and, more importantly, where and how he needs to improve.
“He’s a player who I followed for a while. He’s a talented player and he needs to be consistent – he knows that,” says Benitez, who could hand Gray a more central role next season – literally and metaphorically.
“Playing behind the striker is a position I liked to see if he was capable of, like he did, to be fair.
“I’m happy for him because it’s a boost always for a player to score goals and to make a contribution for the team. These players need to show this character and consistency – it’s what you need if, at the end of the season, you want be in a better position and a good position.”
Everton, and Gray, will face a much tougher test next time out with a friendly against Manchester United slated for August 7.