Everton boss Rafael Benitez defended his decision to substitute Richarlison in Sunday’s encounter at Crystal Palace.
The Toffees’ fans made their feelings known when the Spanish boss replaced Fabian Delph and Richarlison with Salomon Rondon and Anthony Gordon in the second half.
The supporters booed his decision to take off the Brazilian forward but Benitez defended the substitution by citing a ‘problem in his calf.’
Richarlison, who played a key role in the 2-1 comeback victory over Arsenal last week, looked frustrated to be replaced before the hour mark.
His manager tried to console him on the touchline but he still looked sulky on his way to the bench.
Benitez told Sky Sports later that the 24-year-old has a calf problem and he wanted to protect the player ahead of a busy fixture period.
He said: “Richarlison has a problem in his calf, we knew that at half-time.
“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.”
Rafael Benitez made a positive start to the 2021-22 season, winning three of the first four Premier League matches.
However, the Toffees’ performances deteriorated as the season progressed.
They have now claimed only a single victory from their previous ten league matches.
The pressure on the Spanish boss is increasing and he must deliver good results in the upcoming matches to appease the fans.
Everton are currently 14th in the league standings, having claimed 18 points from 16 matches.
The Merseyside club will face Chelsea in their next fixture at Stamford Bridge before they host Leicester City at Goodison Park.