Gray to haunt Robins again?

Just over a year ago, Andre Gray hit his first Football League hat-trick against Bristol City.

Saturday, 28th January 2017, 5:00 am
Andre Gray

That rubbed salt in the Robins' wounds after they missed out on the striker, having agreed a fee with Brentford.

Gray went to Burnley instead for a then-club record £6m, and the rest is history.

He made his debut in a 2-1 win over City at Ashton Gate and went on to claim 25 goals for the season, as Championship player of the year.

Even after a tricky introduction to Premier League life, he has six goals to his name so far this season, and boss Sean Dyche feels he is only going to get better.

Dyche is careful not to over polish a rough diamond, and said: "His understanding of the game is improving all the time. His goalscoring ability and his natural edge to his goalscoring ability nobody questions, and we haven’t looked to over coach that, you’ve got to leave that alone and nurture it and let him do the natural side of his game.

"It’s working on the nuts and bolts of his game, the tactical side and the detail of his game.

"It’s a fine line in coaching with giving enough information to prompt it but not so much that it overwhelms. I think his steady progress has been due to good staff here who add good details in but not too much at a time.

"His all-round game is improving all the time. I think there’s more to come as well.

"Playing in the Premier League every week can only help. It can only help all players.

"If you’re panicking it’s no use, that means it’s overwhelming you as a player, if you’re in that stretch zone where it’s hard but you’re holding your head above water and making sense of it all that’s a great period of growth and I think all of our players are in that zone."

Gray has had to refine areas of his game, but Dyche feels he has made real progress: "It’s partly technique in some key moments which still escapes him now and again. But his tactical understanding has improved, particularly defending from the front and the importance of that, especially in the Premier League when a lot of teams play out from the back, it’s even more important then that centre forwards understand how to defend from the front.

"I think his hold-up play outside the box has improved. You still want that predatory instinct in the box."

Gray is often feted for his pace, but his power in particular was a threat at Arsenal on Sunday: "He’s got a rawness to his pace but a power to his running.

"Some athletes and footballers look powerful when they run, such as Alan Wells back in the day, then you had Carl Lewis who looked like he was floating.

"Footballers are the same. Andre’s a package of raw strength and pace, someone like Thierry Henry was a joy to watch when he was in full flow, it’s a different kind of strength and pace."