Often Partisan

The Continued Rise of Demarai Gray

Since scoring a hat-trick against Reading last weekend the world seems to have sat up and taken notice of Demarai Gray. The 18-year-old has already made twenty-six first appearances for Blues and is now being offered a two year extension to his contract after nailing down his place in the first team.

I should imagine it’s been a whirlwind 15 months or so for Gray. It’s only just over a year since he made his debut in the 4-0 win over Millwall in what was Lee Clark’s last home league win of last season on October 1 as a 91st minute substitute. In that time he has gone from a raw teenage winger to probably the most financially valuable asset in the squad; becoming a first team fixture and an England youth international on the way.

It’s a far cry from the first few occasions I saw him – either at the blustery Wast Hills playing for Richard Beale’s development squad or at Solihull in the FA Youth Cup – but it’s a fulfilment of the promise he has shown. I remember seeing him at the end of January last year in a 1-0 win over Bristol Rovers in what looked a very promising youth line-up, lighting up the left hand side with his skill and trickery. Gray had lit up the previous round in a 3-1 win over WBA, setting up Blues’ second goal with a great run and cross for Charlee Adams.

I’ve often thought that the hardest step for any young player to take is the last one – from making a debut in the first team to being a consistent performer but Gray has definitely grown as he has been exposed to first team football. It’s easy to get carried away as a young pro – especially if the debut has been a dream one – but the best players know that bar has to be met every single game and playing on adrenaline and emotion alone isn’t enough. I think the improvement in Gray has been especially marked this season – he looked a far better player in the opening games of this season than he did at the end of last season and he’s kicked on again under the tutelage of Rowett.

Gray is at an important time in his development now and I think he has to balance the lure of financial security and big bucks with the way his career will progress. Should he make the move to a much bigger Premier League side he’s not going to get in the team every week; indeed, he may even struggle to get on the bench and I’m of the belief that a succession of loan moves isn’t as good for his footballing career as a solid season with Blues would be; I think thirty to forty games this season with us with the goals and performances that would come with it might mean his next move (which I think is inevitable) would be to a first team role somewhere else rather than as a “hot prospect”.

What it comes down to at the end of the day is money; whether Birmingham City need it (they say they don’t) or whether Gray wants more of it right now. I think we have to be realistic – despite the club saying they don’t need the money I think if a Premier League team came in with a bid north of £4M or so we’d talk with them; four million invested back in the team could provide some real quality for Rowett to push the team up the table. Whether Rowett would be given all the proceeds is another matter altogether.

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73 Responses to “The Continued Rise of Demarai Gray”

  • MattNL says:

    How long did Redmond stay after breaking into the team, a season and a half? or was it two and a half? he’s done ok since, but not a perfect template for Gray to follow as he’s back in the Championship. Maybe is better he looks at someone like Zaha, who stayed for more seasons at Palace, before getting a Man Utd move, ok that didn’t go quite to plan either, but he’s still in the Premier league.

    I Can’t think of too many examples it does work out for straight away or clubs who take the time with young players, only Arsenal with Walcott and Oxlade-CHamberlain spring to mind.
    So my advice to Gray would be to stay for this season and next, unless Arsenal, or maybe Man Utd now van Gaal is there, come in for him.

    • richardm says:

      Actually Matt, in the case of Walcott and Oxelaide Chamberlain Arsenal “stole” these two out of the Southampton Academy, so perhaps neither are good example either

  • Euston 9:15 says:

    You changed your mind about football money staying at the club ?

  • Hillfield blues says:

    Can see a buy now and loan him back situation maybe?

  • StaffsBlue says:

    When the offers come in January, which I’m sure they will, then I’ve no doubt the club will listen to any over £3/4m. When that happens, young Demarai will have a decision to make and it will probably be the most important decision of his whole career. Stick or twist. Does he stay and continue his development in an environment he’s known since he was a kid, or does he take the money and run… and stagnate in some big team’s reserves? In my opinion, he should take a look at the likes of Butland and Adeyemi and realise that his future should be Blue.

  • rhees says:

    just hope we dont become a swelling club we need to keep talent

  • Paul Hawkins says:

    Surely it would be better for the club to hold on to him and watch his value rise further. As much as £3/£4 million is great for a kid of his age but surely a couple of years from now then you could add at least another £10 million.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    I watched Demarai at Blackpool and he looked beleaguered. I was concerned that Rowett had left him on for so long before substituting him. When I saw him in the starting line up against Reading, for a second I questioned Rowett’s judgement. Just shows you, GARRY KNOWS BEST!! :-) KRO and a great Christmas to all Bluenoses!!

  • mark says:

    Daniel with a offer of his extension contact on the table already by bcfc and not taken up as of yet , is this to push the big premiership clubs in showing their hand, or is Demmi interested in what they might have to offer??

  • Richard Granfield says:

    The BIG question is…..Do Blues want to challenge for the Premier League?
    If so, we need to retain players such as Gray and Reece Brown who have Premier League potential.
    If Blues are content to wallow in the middle to lower reaches of the Championship then a sale is inevitable.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I agree. If we get 3 points tomorrow, and get at least a draw from both Derby and Forest, we’ll be 2 points ahead of where we were at the end of last year…. and we were pushing for the play-offs then. This season, it would put us within touching distance of the top 10… so keeping our best players and maybe adding one or two will give us a fighting chance. Gray needs to be a part of that.

  • Weaponsguru says:

    Much as I would love him to stay; and for purely “foootballing reasons”, he probably should, as has already been mentioned but…….
    what happens if he picks up an injury while staying at Blues?

    It’s alright us telling him he should stay for another year in order to develop and possibly become a much better player, but who amongst us would want to be the one who told him that the crunching tackle away against Rotherham or Leeds on a cold, wet February evening has broken his tibia and ended his career?.

    OK, it could happen to any footballer at any level at any time, but I’m sure it would be easier to take if you’ve spent 18 months scrapping for a bench place at Liverpool or Arsenal, on £15 – 20k a week (or more), rather than playing every week for Blues on £2 or 3k.

    Yeah, OK, “scare-mongering” shouldn’t really come into it, but I know if he were my lad, I’d be tempted to at least tell him to consider to “make hay while the sun shines”. :-(

  • mineheadblue says:

    This whole thing makes me sad and angry. We’re BIRMINGHAM CITY, we’ve got a proud history and boy, have we dropped a long way down the food chain since Yeung and Pannu.
    The thing that gets me is the absolute arrogance of ‘bigger clubs’ who see one of our youngsters and think ‘we’ll have a bit of that’. (I guess the turning point was Redmond). And it’s our acceptance of where we now are to the point when it all seems inevitable.

    It won’t be long until they do a programme about Blues and David Attenborough does the voice-over of the predators feeding over the carcass.

    Sorry, just had to get it off my chest!!

    • bluenoserob says:

      While I agree that it hurts that we cant hold on to our best players , would we complain if for instance Tamworth tuned up a wonderkid and we turned his head and pinched him.Its harsh but thats football.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    Guys, if anyone is putting pressure on Demarai it is us Bluenoses. He is still a kid and a long way away as yet from proving he is the next Trevor Francis. If we get an offer circa 4-5m, then I am guessing that whilst the club are scraping around for funds, then it will be an offer the financiers of the club cannot refuse. If this happens, then Demarai will have taken paternal advise from his manager, agent and family so please in advance dont class him as a mercenary or having taken the money and run. He is a young potential starlet with a lot of talent and good luck to him. We can only hope that Garry gets a million or two to strengthen the squad if this situation arises. That’s football!! KRO.

  • gerard says:

    Minehead Blue echoes my sentiments, but we are today who we are , ( thank you PETER PAN ) and Captain Hook) also known as Carson Yeung, my gut feeling it that anything over 5million will take him away from us, including deals possibly over 4 million with add ons-whether he will be worth more in future who knows? my gut feeling is yes, the so called big clubs will jostle for him eventually as long as he progresses anyway, as they see him as a commodity that there competitors want so it is pure business they think of first not the player-investment second, saying all that I also have a feeling he will be sold and lent back to us, but the player himself who seems grounded , loyal and sensible enough may have other ideas-time will tell -sooner than later.

  • Raymondo says:

    I hope Gray will stay as he’s a local lad and takes some pride in the shirt, but eventually it’s inevitable. Unless promotion is achieved via the play offs (just possible) and PP is voted off BIHL altogether. New owners would keep DG here as well, perhaps, with GR’s intervention. By the way, does anybody think they’ve delayed the AGM so that CY can get out on parole and attend? Anything’s possible in crazy HK land.

    • suenoble says:

      Agree with that Raymondo, except the new owners bit. The down side of new owners, and there will be a down side, is that nobody will be safe including, perish the thought, Gary Rowett

  • Tony says:

    Gray should forget about a move and knuckle down at Blues, he still has a way to go he has not done anything as yet.
    He is not and never will be another TF but he could become a very good player in 2-3 years.
    If we take previous examples, ie Butland, Redmond, Adeyami , none of those have pulled up any trees since leaving.
    Redmond and Butland will go on to do ok, Adeyami is one lucky boy he really never was that good.

  • Dave Mann says:

    For once tony I agree with you that gray should stay at blues but to be fair to the lad he’s not been pushing to leave it might just happen because we need the money more so than him wanting to leave…I also agree on Redmond, butland and adeyemi that all three of them were totally overrated and I’ve always said that Redmond will not go on to be the player everybody thinks along with butland as a goalkeeper is championship quality at best…I hope he stays but money talks every time with our players at the moment!. Kro

  • DMC says:

    a prem league club would be mad to offer £3-4m for him, he’s 18 and has just got a hat trick, there must be hundreds who’ve done similar and not turned out to be very good later on
    he’s got potential yes but thats all it is, he’s a country mile away from being a finished article

  • Dave Mann says:

    That’s what’s we’re saying DMC. Kro

    • Dave Mann says:

      Tony, I have not once said that those players now are in any way compare able to those mentioned by you or should they ever be because those are legends of the club and I also do not except playing or dropping down leagues like you think I do.. I prefer premiership football and whatching quality players but today’s problems with the owners does not give us that luxury so get real stop talking out your arse like you know it all and if it weren’t for fans like me there wouldn’t be a club to support for those fans who please themselves and go down when it’s only the good times to support… I thank god that ime not one of those PROFUSELY and it’s me you should be gratefully to for being true blue no matter what Crap my team might dish out, over and out!!!

  • gerard says:

    re above agreed mad to pay 3-4 million for potential but just think what is 3-4 million to the clubs supposedly interested ,peanuts-as I said before if and only if it becomes an auction then 3-4 million plus is achievable , it maybe madness to you and I but to a top Premier League club it is all about getting one over on your nearest rival and taking a potential target of your competitors off the market and I repeat at 3-4 million to them not even a gamble

  • Dave Mann says:

    Very true that 3/4 million to a top premier club is peanuts but for us it would keep us going with added finance for players and helping towards that £4.4 million pound running costs though that will be reduced by zigic wages and one or two more we can get of the books so let’s see what happens January and if we can keep gray and add a couple more players then I think we can really go for it for the rest of the season. Kro

  • singingface says:

    Sadly the truth is BCFC have always been a selling club and I can go back to the Wisemans’ running the club in the fifties. Terry Hennessey went to Forest on the cheap when they weren’t any more succesful a club than us. If we had added top players to Freddie Goodwins’ side which included Francis, Latchford, Burn, Gallagher etc, we might be a top Premiership side now. Sadly the stars were sold and the fans left cheated.
    Same old story eh? KRO.
    Christmas wish…… BIH sell up and we end up this time with owners who care about the club and its supporters.
    Anyway, well done to Gary Rowett,

  • Tony says:

    YOUR Talking quality there singing, Im afraid non of this current crop are in that league.

  • Brightside says:

    Interestingly I was told by someone in the game that he now has an agent recommended to him by Mr Clark. Allegedly the agent has links to Newcastle and some sort of agreement was being brokered before Mr Clark was sacked. It is known that Newcastle were interested and I only hope that the club have changed their minds. However I agree £3m with add ons and loan back for the rest of the season and possibly next and he will be gone. As has been said that is where we are. KRO

  • Dave Mann says:

    Yet again Tonys right, because the present team is in the second tear of English football where those legends played in the top tear.. Pretty observant of you there Tony, keep up the good history lessons where different leagues apply. Kro

  • Dave Mann says:

    Brightside,. That was Newcastle, Australia pal… Never mind close enough!!! Kro

  • Hillfield blues says:

    Gray’s obviously a talent but no more than Redmond was at the same stage in his Blues days. Ok the kids got a great hat-trick but let’s not start talking telephone numbers at this stage about what he’s worth. Gray would be absolutely crazy to risk his progression at this fledgling stage of his career at his hometown club for the sake of money. There’s loads of time for that. Redmond was eventually sold against his will for financial reasons,and he was a year on from where Gray is now. I don’t think our situation is as dire as back then so we don’t need to bite the first bidders hand off either.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Will fans stop going on about gray leaving of his own accord because it ain’t happening..he leaves cuz we need the money..stop boring me. Kro

  • Bluenosegaz says:

    If they sell grey rely they should demand at least ten million if not more if they want him that bad they will pay if they let him go for less they want shooting.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    If Gray isn’t 100% fit today, I’d play Novak on the left. With ‘Uddersfield’s two widemen – Scannel and Butterworth – our widemen are going to have to do a lot of tracking back. That’s where they’ll hurt us most.

  • Dave Mann says:

    I agree staffs but I wouldn’t swap our two wide men for any other two in this league and if I was there manager ide be worried about cotterill and gray … I think rowett is more a manager who tends to not worry to much about the opposition where Clark had sleepless nights and that’s exactly how it should be IMO. Kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I agree Dave, but you always have to be aware of the opposition strengths too. Scannell and Butterworth create a lot of goals for them. I don’t think they’ll trouble us too much elsewhere.

  • Dave Mann says:

    I hope your right but lets hope they don’t have to defend to deep as we’re be the ones attacking them and causing them problems… We seem well organised these days so ime sure were have it covered and there two wide men have severe headaches and dizziness …..1-2 prediction with cotterill and Donaldson getting the goals and the three points. Kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I feel much more confident of beating them now Adam Clayton has moved on. He ran the show against us at StAns last season. Up front for them, Wells is off form, Grant Holt rarely scores anymore and Vaughan is just coming back from injury. So, keep their widemen quiet and we should be on for a good win. 3-1 Blues for me.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    This is the same fixture where Kyle Bartley scored then got sent off. It seems a lifetime away now.

  • Shirley Blue says:

    Up to 15th with the top half of the table most definitely in sight. Gary Rowett -14 points from 7 games – what a turnaround.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Shirley we were 15th anyway and that’s 17 points from 8 games…pushing for the playoffs methinks!!! Kro

  • StaffsBlue says:

    3 points from the top 10-12 (which is where I thought we’d finish.) 10 points from the play-offs.

    It will be interesting to see how we do against Derby and Forest. I think we’re well capable of beating them both.

    • Shirley Blue says:

      We wouldn’t be even dreaming of mid table let alone the play offs without the managerial change. We would be in the bottom three. Sorry couldn’t resist it!

      • StaffsBlue says:

        I’ve moved on, doesn’t affect me in the slightest. I’m pretty mercenary where players and managers are concerned. I support them all whilst they’re here, but once they’ve left the club, they’re of no concern to me, I certainly wouldn’t waste time talking about them, but be my guest, knock yourself out. :-)

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Am I right in thinking that Davis’ booking today takes him to 5… and a one match suspension?

  • Tony says:

    Dose of realism required ,was a good win with what are basically league 1 players, this upturn in form is 95% down to the manager the other 5 the players.
    If you look at the individuals they are not a side capable of challenging for the play-offs, Rowett has them playing to a system and he has instilled confidence, a little organisation will take you a long way in this game.
    Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, lol

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I didn’t know you lived in Blackpool Tony? :-))

      But I do agree, there’s no point in getting carried away… yet. I do think you’re being a bit harsh on the players though. Some of them were League 1 players when they came, but not anymore. Most have played 15-20+ games in the Championship, so I think they deserve to be called Championship players now. Saying that, I still don’t think we’ll finish anywhere near the play-offs. I’ll stick with my 10th-12th place. Anyway, have a good Christmas mate and the rest of the posters on OP.

      • steve says:

        They,ve only improved since Rowett joined.Up until then they were League 1 players.Seven decent games doesn’t make you a Championship player.I,m over the moon with what’s happened since GR joined Blues,but survival is still our aim,which wouldn’t have happened with these players and the previous manager.

  • Jazzzy786 says:

    While I’d love us to keep Gray I don’t think it’s happening. Anything above £3m we’ll sell. Sadly I think the contract extension is just to get more money from potential suitors.

  • Tony says:

    Same to you Staffs, and everyone contributing to this excellent blog.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Ime sorry but Randolph, Morrison , caddis, Davis, cotterill and gray are very much championship quality and not league one players like tony keeps insisting they are .. Yes good organisation is important and that’s down to good management but we’ve shown and the players have shown over the last 8 games that we and them deserve to be in the championship…start being a realist and not a sceptemist …rowetts made them championship players, Clark made them look like league one players which he’s doing exactly the same at Blackpool who will be relegated come march… Have a merry Xmas. Kro

  • Dave mann says:

    Ime sure Randolph, caddis, Morrison, Davis, cotterill and gray would also echo Tonys words that they are league one players and not of the quality of a team that as been very lucky to have win 5 drawn 2 and lost only one of there last 8 games playing teams that the majority if there players are championship or even premiership quality, ah well not bad for a bunch of crap lower league misfits ah Tony.. Merry Xmas pal. Lol&kro

  • richard Granfield says:

    I see Denny Johnstone scored his first goal for Macclesfield in their 5-1 win at Alfreton.

  • Tony says:

    Dave you surely do not think those players you mention will go on to be compared to the likes of Latchford,Burns, Francis, and many many others, you go on about them playing in the second tier of football but all of those legends as you put it played at the same level.
    The difference was you could see they were special players, very special,Im not running them down they give what they have, which will be enough for mid table.
    At no point have I said they they were lucky they have deserved the points they have won.
    There is something called a new manager bounce thats whats happened here, Gary Rowett has shown what can be achieved with a decent manager
    There is a big difference between you and I Dave, you along with a few others are happy to see us slide ever lower even to the conference, you will still go down and support them its a tribal thing.
    Well I wont have that crap, I have seen great players down Stans and am not prepared to watch the rubbish dished up by the previous manager. I wll go so far as to say its because of me and people like me that the upturn in fortunes has happened.
    We kicked upso much fuss that the club had to do something and get rid of the hapless Clark, from that point on our fortunes changed, that fact has vindicated our stance you should thank us profusely

  • Dave Mann says:

    Total bollocks as usual Tony, don’t know me obviously do don’t tell me what I do and don’t want from my club.. If its thanks you want then no thanks… Blues fan for life not when it suits you.. I think it’s me you should be thanking profusely!!!

    • steve says:

      Don’t tell me what to do ? This from a man that tells fans that they have to go to the game otherwise they’re not real supporters.Priceless.

    • Art says:

      Sorry Dave I agree 100% with Tony.

      Calling him an idiot is very disrespectful and does nothng to support your view.

      As for Clark- he has to be the worst manager in my time supporting the club and like Tony I was pleased to see him fired-he should of walked but lacked any integrity.

      Happy Xmas.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Francis, burns, latchford…0
    Yuranek, ridgewell, martins..1…that’s majors won at blues Tony..do those three compare to the other three…I don’t think so!!!….goodnight idiot !

  • steve says:

    How can you mention Yarinek,Ridgewell and Martins in the same sentence as the Holy Trilogy.And you call Tony an idiot? Unbelievable.

    • Dave Mann says:

      The point I was making Steve is that of course martins, yuranek and ridgewell don’t compare with Trevor , kenny or bob but the point ime making is that you don’t need great players to win major trophies., IDE rather have a very good team than individual great players and we didn’t win anything with those three in the team,. The other three played in a winning cup final team … Have I made myself clear, good.. Unbelievable that you even thought that I was comparing those three with Francis, burns and latchford or even hatton .. I hope you have a great Xmas! L&kro

  • Tony says:

    Your letting your passion run away with you Dave.

  • Pete says:

    Yawn about a stupid row. Point is the team we have now is the team we have now. End of… If people opt out supporting fine, just don’t call yourself a supporter then. However, Clark got the boot as he was underachieving a the players are not as bad as the performances. I it was down tis stay away fans it would have happened 2 years earlier. I don’t really want to dwell on past, just the fact I have started to enjoy going again will do for me,

  • KeepRightcroydOn says:

    Of course the current squad of free signings and home grown players do not compare with the batch that came through in the early 70s. That lot were a bit special. But that does not mean our current players are not good enough for the Championship. While many of them were picked up from League 1 clubs, my feeling is that they were the better quality League 1 players who are capable if holding their own in the Championship, especially if managed and nurtured properly which seems to be the case at the moment, and hopefully this is sustainable.

    It think that some credit is due to Clark who seems to be able to spot decent players. His failing is that he is very limited as a coach/manager, and that’s why we came unstuck with him. Rowett is showing what an astute manager can do with the talent available. There was an interesting piece in yesterday’s Mail about the little tactical tweak he introduced at half time by pushing Davies further up in a more attacking role to support the front men. It carried risk of exposing our back four to Huddersfield’s wide men, but our defense is a lot more organised and settled now, not to mention more confident, The gamble paid off and we improved second half. I suspect Clark would have tried more radical changes, running the risk of the team losing shape and being confused with his tactics.

    Just shows what can be achieved with limited, though capable at this level, players.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Blimey! The Christmas spirit wore off quick. Play nicely girls. lol

    Seriously though, there’s nothing to argue about really. We’ll never see the likes of Francis/Latchford/Hatton at the Blues again. That’s just the way it is. Just like you’ll never get a Best/Law/Charlton combination again. You can’t make comparisons with todays players. They were players of an era, which we’ll never see the likes of again, unfortunately. I was lucky enough to see all of them play live many times.

  • Tony says:

    Cant argue with any of that Staffs.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Same here staffs but as I’ve said earlier were in a situation where were not gonna see those greats again and I think tony got the wrong end of the stick with comparisons… We’ve got a championship side now that had players from league one and that’s very true but were doing great under rowett and lets all get down there Boxing Day and cheer on another three points.. Have a great Xmas Tony and staffs and though we dissagree on some issues were all blues fans , keep up the good work!! Lol&kro

  • The Flying Pig says:

    Whilst accepting the point that we’re not (yet) at the stage where we can expect to see quite the same level of young talent coming through as in the past, it is at least encouraging to see Redmond, Gray, Brown coming through the ranks, all of whom are promising players. If we believe the Daily Star then the vultures are circing around Josh Martin too.

    Other than winning a pot, is there a better feeling for a football supprter than to see the young ones coming through?

  • StaffsBlue says:

    A big well done to our U21s, who yesterday came back from two goals down to beat Man City’s U21s away from home. The Redditch striker, Jermaine Hylton, scored the second and was involved in the other two goals… so he’s certainly put himself in the manager’s thoughts I would think.


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