Richarlison was subbed on 58 minutes with Everton 1-0 down; the Brazilian looked bemused at why he was being replaced; Benitez cited a "problem in his calf", before stating, "I cannot explain to every fan what is going on"
Monday 13 December 2021 09:05, UK
Rafael Benitez hit back at the Everton fans that booed his decision to substitute Richarlison in Everton's defeat at Crystal Palace, citing a "problem in his calf."
With Everton 1-0 down at Selhurst Park, the away fans let their frustrations be known to their manager when Benitez made a double substitution just before the hour mark, bringing on Salomon Rondon and Anthony Gordon to replace Fabian Delph and Richarlison. The Toffees went on to lose the game 3-1, although Rondon did score off the bench.
Richarlison, who scored in the 2-1 win over Arsenal in Everton's previous fixture, looked hugely frustrated to be taken off when he did.
Benitez put his arm around the striker and tried to console him on the touchline, though that didn't improve Richarlison's mood as he sulkily made his way to the bench.
Explaining the decision to replace him, Benitez cited a calf problem and claimed the player knew at half-time there was a strong chance he would be replaced in order to protect him ahead of a busy fixture period.
"Richarlison has a problem in his calf, we knew that at half-time," Benitez told Sky Sports.
"We were thinking about changing him but we didn't do it as we gave him five minutes to see how he was. We didn't want him to get injured with so many games and he was not affecting the game, so you make the substitution as you know what is going on.
"But you can't explain that all the time. I'm disappointed that the people don't realise that you make the substitutions and they go well, as Rondon was a key player for us with the way he held the ball. Richarlison wasn't helping when he was moving his arms, when he knew at half-time we were going to give him five minutes to see how he was.
"He said at half-time, 'give me five minutes and we'll see how I'm getting on' - I can't explain that to every fan what is going on."
Former Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew gave his view in the Sky Sports studio, adding: "I felt he should have stayed on the pitch because of his performance on Monday night. He hadn't had a great performance in this game because he was playing as a lone striker, and that's not really his role.
"I can understand why he was slightly bemused when he came on. With my manager's hat on I don't want that reaction from him, you don't want to see that, but in his defence, on Monday night he was lively and he has that danger element."
Sky Sports' Graeme Souness was critical of a mostly lethargic Everton performance at Selhurst Park and questioned why they did not capitalise on their victory against Arsenal last time out.
He said: "What I'm mystified about is that the mood after Monday's win against Arsenal at Everton would have been buoyant. That first 45 minutes here, almost an hour, they were so negative and so passive.
"I'm not sure how you prepare a team, after such a high of the last 30 minutes against Arsenal, and say: 'Right, the way we're going to play against Palace, who have lost three games, and have no confidence, we're going to play negative, sit Fabian Delph in front of the back four, we're going to try and nick the game.'
"I think that's a hard sell from a manager. They were a shadow of a team in the first half.
"We know Rafa's approach of football is quite unique and different to lots of coaches, we saw that at Newcastle, he likes to play counter-attack football and tries to steal games.
"I don't think Evertonians will accept that. The whole idea was to take Everton to the next level, and it hasn't happened. They should have approached this game on the front foot. They've been so negative."
One of Crystal Palace's standout performers was Conor Gallagher, who scored two superb goals to win the game for the hosts.
Manager Patrick Vieira was full of praise for the 21-year-old, telling Sky Sports: "There's still a lot to come from him. He'll need to manage his strength and find out the best way to manage his energy. He's a fantastic player to have. He gave everything to the team and he can score goals. To have a midfielder who can score 10-15 goals is important.
"What's extraordinary is we were talking about the 90th minute he's been running all over, to find the energy to score. That goal took a lot.
"We don't think about what will happen in the future. We have him for a year and we are pleased to work with him. It's a win-win. We'll see what happens at the end of the season."
Pardew was also impressed with the midfielder, who made his full England debut last month.
"He did everything in the game, it was exceptional," he said. "There's not one thing I'd fault him on, he even almost scored with a header! He's making forward runs, he's got that dynamic way about him, he wants to be involved all the time.
"Gareth [Southgate] was up at Burnley today, he should have taken himself back down home to Palace and seen Gallagher. He's knocking on the England door."
But is Gallagher ready for the step up into the Chelsea first team when he returns this summer? Souness believes he needs a little more time to develop, adding: "He's not there now. There are 21-year-olds who look like the finished article, I think he's a young 21-year-old who has a bit of filling out to do.
"He's got all the technique you need, he has a fabulous attitude, just stick with that, avoid injuries, and you'll be a star."