Often Partisan

The Rise of Demarai Gray

The latest academy starlet to make his debut in the Blues first team has been seventeen year old winger Demarai Gray. Tall and athletic, Gray has been a mainstay of the u18 side in the past couple of seasons and his displays in training have forced him into the first team reckoning.

I will admit I was mildly surprised that Dimmi wasn’t given a pro contract at the end of last season; he’d been one of the more consistent performers I’d seen in the u18s and development squad and he seemed to be good cover for the wings where Blues are a little bit short on players after the departure of Nathan Redmond in the summer. However, Dimmi is still only 17 and thus he’s easily got time to earn a pro deal this season and to make it in the team.

In the Academy’s FA Youth Cup run last season Dimmi stood out as a talent; his pace enabled him to get forwards and push full backs back whilst his skill and technique gave him the tools to be able to beat them to get the ball in. He wasn’t scared to cut in himself and have a shot either and with a hard-working forward like Reece Hales up front it meant that the team were regularly able to construct proper threats on the opposition’s goal because of the pressure they could build on the defence. Like Redmond was as a kid, he’s still raw but there is a spark there – as well as being athletic there is technique and that is the most important thing I think for Blues to develop at the moment.

From what Lee Clark has been saying about his rise to the first team it appears Dimmi has now added scoring to his repertoire and indeed, he scored again in a friendly against Manchester United’s youth side in a private friendly as he continues to impress. From watching Clark watching the youth squad you can see how much he values players putting a shift in, pressing and forcing teams into mistakes and if Gray can now capitalise on that by putting away efforts too he really could be a good player.

Having made his first team debut the young winger has achieved the first step in his path to pro football but as I’ve always said the hard work starts from this point on as he now needs to maintain the level of training and improvement that has propelled him to that position and show the consistency that he is worth a slot on the bench or in the first XI on a week by week basis. I think it would be a lot to expect that right now but if young Dimmi can keep impressing he’ll surely get the contract his skill deserves and push on to the holy grail of being a pro footballer.


32 Responses to “The Rise of Demarai Gray”

  • people's republic of Finlan says:

    Do you think a loan spell would benefit him?

  • people's republic of Finlan says:

    agree also think Koby Arthur could do with a spell out to get some consistent football

  • Chris W says:

    Good to see the youngsters coming through, hopefully they are allowed to be creative and not strangled to play a set way.
    Football is an art and players should be allowed to express themselves.
    Players like Frank Worthington, TF or going back to Bertie Auld are rarely seen around football grounds these days, they had flair and individualism as well as talent, but they were allowed to entertain too.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Players back then weren’t coached to death like they are today Chris. Like you said, they were allowed the freedom to express their talent and flair. There were plenty of other players in the team to do the hard grind. But they all complimented each other. I can’t imagine a Best, Law, Marsh or Greaves emerging today.

      • Chris W says:

        You been away StaffsBlue, or you got two handles? They are coached to death these days, it is all down to money.
        LC has no money and is letting the youngsters have that freedom, but I have noticed with Callum Reilly, he starts to do what comes natural to him and suddenly stops as if he is being strangled, then releases an obvious ball that is easily cut out. It is the spontaneous that makes a simple thing into a great thing.
        That is what made Best, Law, Marsh or Greaves etc so great.

        • StaffsBlue says:

          Nah, not been away Chris, just felt a bit rough for the last week. Been reading comments, but couldn’t be arsed commenting.

          • Blueboy 88 says:

            Get well soon Staffs , your enthusiasm for all things Blue is missed..

          • StaffsBlue says:

            Cheers Blueboy.

          • chas says:

            Get well from me as well. Your level-headed posts are missed.

          • StaffsBlue says:

            Thanks mate. Appreciated.

          • BigmanSteve0 says:

            Staffs & blue boy need to get a room me thinks lol

          • maurice walters from thailand says:

            i would like to share that room as well

          • Chris W says:

            Been a few bugs about, had one myself a couple of weeks about.
            International break so not much happening apart from LC bashers who want him out as soon as new owners are found, and don’t want CY or Paladini but anyone would be better brigade.
            Personally, I think CY doesn’t know what PP has done, he has found out hence the rumoured split between them. CY, could have been good if he hadn’t been arrested and assets frozen, but the wound is too deep and I don’t think the scar will heal.
            As for new owners, if it is Paladini then hopefully he learnt his lesson at QPR, he has the finance and is local, but there are so many rumours and red herrings I will wait and see.

  • Frankie says:

    Would be foolish to not get him ‘signed up’ as he is an undoubted talent.
    Then get him off somewhere like Walsall, who play good football and watch him develop.
    Similarly Koby would benefit.

  • Peter Nolan says:

    I love reading your articles on the blues, much better than any newspaper.

    Keep up the good work Dan.


  • bluenoserob says:

    Its been said by many presently that being a working class club holds us back financially, but maybe that is bringing us a steady stream of kids not only with talent but with the drive and ambition to make something of themselves.maybe in the long run that is the thing that will save us.

  • mark says:

    Regardless of the restraints clark under imo he will always dip into the pool of young players we have. He did this at his previous club hfc. Unfortunately we had to cut our cloth accordingly. It wonderful that we still have a wealth of young talent still bursting through. Staffsblue hope you are on the mend your input has been sadly missed………kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Thanks mark. I think Lee Clark would always have been youth-oriented. He was a first team regular at an early age himself, so he knows what it’s all about. I think we have a really good blend of experience and youth now. Long may it continue.

  • fletch says:

    i see a mark dennis is working for the academy …. is he our old full back ?

  • Tony says:

    You vant compare Reilley with the players you mentioned Chris, they were on a different Planet.

    • Chris W says:

      True, but they started off in the youth teams and were allowed to express and were not tethered by tactics, formations or, as proved in later life, discipline.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    When TF returns as DoF and a new manager is told “promotion asap” youth won’t get a look in

    • almajir says:

      Good job thats not likely to happen then innit? :)

    • Chris W says:

      Not sure about that, TF was a superkid, so he knows all about promoting through the ranks.
      I still believe LC should be given the chance without the shackles.
      We are playing entertaining attacking football, something that has been missing for sometime, we just lack a litte more quality, this can be aquired with a decent loan or in the January window.
      A knew manager will mean the squad will be learning all over what a new manager wants.
      Everyone quotes consistency and stability, another wholesale change is the last thing we need now.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Surely academies are the blueprint for the future for football league clubs.. the only way of sustaining a healthy future. Sure, a lot of the young players will be sold on eventually.. but that’s how it’s always been at most clubs. The opposite, is to buy a player for, say, £5m, pay maybe as much again (or more) in wages, to sell him on a year or two later, most likely, at a loss. As poor as the present circumstances are, I think we’re doing it right at the moment, a mixture of experience, youth and the odd loan here and there. It bodes well for the future… if only we can get rid of the present regime.

  • Art Watson says:

    Get well StaffsBlue,

    Mr.T Ross is conspicuous by his silence.

  • Blue92 says:

    Koby Arthur was playing at Woodford United he’s a must keep bright future ahead of him

  • James says:

    If we aint ever gonna be in a position to compete with Man City, wouldn’t it be great to be known for doing something more special. Love what this club are doing and id be happy if we was known for being just great nurturers of young local talent.

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