Warning shot fired at Everton star; Benitez shares view on his welcome

Richarlison and Demarai Gray during Brighton vs Everton, August 2021

Everton manager Rafael Benitez has fired a warning shot at winger Demarai Gray to not get ahead of himself after his positive start.

Gray has hit the ground running on Merseyside after he was signed from Bayer Leverkusen on a three-year deal. He has slotted straight into the starting XI under Benitez, which is something he hasn’t experienced for a few seasons. And he has got to work on repaying his manager’s faith.

The 25-year-old has scored in the Toffees’ last two Premier League fixtures against Leeds and Brighton.

Both of the finishes have secured valuable points on the road. But Benitez is telling him to keep his head firmly down.

“I tell him so many times, he’s done nothing yet, he has to carry on training well, and if he does, he has the ability to influence games,” said Benitez.

“I was following him when he was at Leicester, and we knew what we could expect from him.

“He has the quality to make a difference, it is just to make sure that mentally he is strong enough to continue in the same way as he is now.

“He is working hard in training sessions, he is improving and has more confidence and is always pushing to play.

“If he keeps training well he has the ability to make the difference in games.”

Rafa off on the right foot

Rafa Benitez barks order during Brighton vs Everton, August 2021

Not only has it been a positive start to life at Everton for Gray, but Benitez himself has also kicked off the season well.

His side have seven points from three games and safely navigated the second round of the Carabao Cup.

A successful start will have helped ease his transition from former Liverpool boss to current Everton manager.

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And he feels the welcome he has received from the club’s supporters has been very positive.

“I think that from the beginning the reception has been great,” said Benitez.

“Obviously we are in the period of the time of social media and anyone on Twitter or Instagram can say something.

“But the reality is we have been in the city for a while, we know the Scousers, what they want, the Everton fans know how we love the city and they appreciate that.

“And we are fighting for them.”

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