Chris Sutton warned Rafa Benitez that he has ‘got real issues’ which will ‘grow and grow and grow’ after his Everton side slipped to a third straight defeat.
Many Everton fans protested when Benitez, who is a legendary figure with fierce rivals Liverpool, got the manager’s job at Goodison Park, and Sutton spelled out his fears that ‘the Benitez factor’ could see the club’s season unravel amid a string of bad results.
Everton have just a win over rock-bottom Norwich to show from their last six matches, and their performance at Molineux on Monday night in the 2-1 loss to Wolves continued a worrying trend.
Everton are missing key men Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Yerry Mina and struggled to cope, especially during a turgid first half, and Sutton accused the players of only ‘turning up’ for 45 minutes.
Rafa Benitez insisted there were positives but Everton’s poor form continued at Molineux
Everton fell to a disappointing 2-1 defeat by Wolves on Monday after a dismal first half
‘This is now three defeats on the spin for Benitez. You can’t expect to turn up for 45 minutes and win a game at this level,’ Sutton said on BBC 5 Live.
‘Everton have got key players out like Calvert-Lewin and Doucoure. They look short in midfield. They were better in the second half but they’ve got problems and the Benitez factor is a huge problem for them. A lot of fans didn’t want him.
‘In the first half they came with very little intent. He’s got real issues.
‘Under Benitez they’re not going to be on the front foot and this is going to grow and grow and grow.’
Sportsmail columnist Chris Sutton is concerned that the ‘Benitez factor’ could hinder Everton
The Toffees fell to two first-half goals before rallying in the second-half but it was too late
Andros Townsend (right) shows the strain as Everton fell to their third straight defeat
As an Anfield icon, Benitez’s appointment was faced with initial disgust from some Everton fans but following a lightning start to the season that talk subsided.
Benitez has insisted he’s received a overwhelmingly positive reception from the Goodison faithful but he must get good results flowing again to avoid his Liverpool status becoming a big issue again.
The Toffees face a brutal run of fixtures amid their injury troubles, with Spurs up next on Sunday, and most likely under the guidance of prospective new boss Antonio Conte.
Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea all await in their next seven games.
Star players Abdoulaye Doucoure (pictured), Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Yerry Mina are out
Everton fans protested against Benitez’s appointment last summer with abusive banners