Demarai Gray argues Rafa Benitez and reveals Frank Lampard's message

Demarai Gray argues Rafa Benitez and reveals Frank Lampard’s message

Frank Lampard is urging his attacking players to be ‘killers in the box’ as he calls on them to send Everton safely back to the Premier League.

Everton have taken 11 points from the last six games and pulled out of the relegation zone. If the results were to go their way, they could confirm their survival against Brentford on Sunday afternoon.

However, goals were always hard to come by, with the 0-0 draw at relegated Watford underlining the team’s lack of firepower. Speaking as the Blues enter the final week of the season, Demarai Gray explained what Lampard and his coaching staff are doing to try to resolve this issue.

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Gray, who started the season in stellar form and whose five goals include the superb late strike that secured a vital win over Arsenal earlier in the campaign, praised Lampard for the impact his arrival at the end of January had on the club.

He said: “When things need to be corrected or dealt with, he deals with them well, like a manager should. His management of men and giving instructions to the team and giving us a game plan…although it’s hard in this situation to install a good game plan because we’re fighting by the minute what he’s given us has been good he’s got everybody on board and the results from last month and the change of attitude and performance were pretty obvious.

Gray was signed by Rafa Benitez in the summer, his return to the Premier League from German side Bayer Leverkusen sealed in a deal that turned out to be the only fee Everton paid over the summer. He hailed Leverkusen as a ‘great club’ but said the chance to sign for the Blues was an opportunity he ‘simply couldn’t turn down’.

The fact that he felt so valued by the club’s desire to sign him underpinned his immediate impact: “Obviously coming back from Germany was difficult. It was a good experience but it was difficult. And when I say difficult, it was more off the field, with Covid and not being able to receive my family.

“Premier League football is the level everyone wants to play at throughout their career. Being at Leicester for so long before that and then stepping away a bit, [gave me] some sort of understanding of how much I want to be a Premier League player. I had the opportunity to be able to come back after six months and it was something I had to take. Rafa brought me in and I knew he had known me for a while, so he gave me this sense of value and desire. It also boosted my confidence. I think the start of the season was one of the best footballs of my career, obviously that comes with age and development and stuff like that. How I started the season, there are few games left now but I have to finish like this and help the team to score goals and points.”

Gray suffered an injury setback on Lampard’s arrival but worked his way into the first team – thanks in part to open communication about how best to secure his involvement. He said: “When he arrived I played a game and then I got injured which was a bit frustrating because you want to impress a new manager and stuff like that. It took me a bit of time to get back to full speed and he’s had a couple of conversations with me and kept the faith and I think my performance is back to his usual level I’m grateful for that and I think for any player he’s important to have the feeling that the manager supports you and supports you. It has been good.

Lampard has been focused on making Everton tough to beat in recent weeks and Gray is happy with how he has been able to help the team. He said: “I think the Chelsea game was one where I analyzed my performance and I’m an attacking player, but there were so many tackles and [so much] throwing my body in front of the ball and that’s not really my game. It’s been more a season of building character, understanding fights for your team.

“Obviously my game is to score goals and I had a chance against Chelsea and I should have scored, it’s a bit frustrating because every minute is important. It’s going to eat me up for a day or so. two but, at the end of the day, I am in these positions and I will continue to be in these positions and in the next games it has to happen. Hopefully the three points can also come afterwards.”

Aware of how goals added value to his game in the final week of the season, Gray said Lampard was giving his own insight into how his players can be more ruthless.

He said: “Every time we do passive drills and form work, even if it’s unopposed, he tells us to be killers in the box. You train your way of playing, so we We’re all in it and we just have to keep We have opportunities, so when opportunities come, we just have to put them aside.


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