Premier League • England

Rafa Benitez pressure ramped up as pundit blasts ‘negative’ Everton loss

Rafa Benitez Everton

Rafa Benitez has come under fire from Graeme Souness, as the pundit blasted Everton’s shocking performance following a big win against Arsenal.

Benitez has come under fire of late as Everton suffered a string of defeats. Indeed, the Toffees have lost seven of their last nine Premier League outings.

However, the side gained some hope after they defeated Arsenal 2-1 following a Demarai Gray stunner in stoppage time. Indeed, that victory should have motivated them coming into the fixture against Crystal Palace, who had lost three on the bounce.

Indeed, Souness felt that should have been the case, but was left mystified at Everton’s approach.

“The mood after Monday night’s game in Everton’s dressing room would have been buoyant. But in that first 45 minutes, maybe an hour, they were so negative and so passive,” he said.

What’s more, Souness was nonplussed about Benitez’s tactical approach, feeling his side should have been much more positive.

“I’m not sure how you prepare a team, having had the high of doing so well against Arsenal, by saying to them: ‘the way we’re going to play against Crystal Palace, who have lost three games and have got no confidence, is we’re going to be negative, we’re going to have Delph sitting in front of the back four and we’re going to try to nick the game’,” he said.

Furthermore, he feels as if the players may be losing confidence in the manager, following the defeat.

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“I think that’s a hard sell for a manager to a player. I’d be questioning it if I was player. They were a shadow of a team in the first half,” he said.

Indeed, things look as if they may get worse for Everton, as they travel to Stamford Bridge on Thursday. Chelsea sit third in the league, and despite a slight drop in form recently, will surely be raring to go against a Toffees side so low on confidence.

Benitez losing the dressing room?

Rafa Benitez bellowing from the Everton touchline

Benitez has explained the reasons for Richarlison’s substitution, which left him looking so displeased, against Crystal Palace.

“Richarlison has a problem with his calf. We knew and were trying to protect him at half time. He wanted to try to carry on,” he said.

“It wasn’t helping with the arms [Richarlison looking annoyed]. I said we could change him at half time and nothing would happen. He wasn’t doing too much in the second half,” he added.

However, Richarlison continued to look angry on the bench, even when Everton pulled a goal back.

The Richarlison incident, coupled with reports of a rift between Benitez and Lucas Digne, looks like Benitez is beginning to lose the dressing room.

Indeed, after an apparent training ground incident, Digne has been omitted from the last two match-day squads.

What’s more, if Benitez cannot keep his players in check, he may soon be forced out of the exit door at Goodison Park.

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