Richarlison pulled no punches in his post-match interview after Tottenham’s woeful Champions League exit, saying he is not getting enough minutes and the season is “$%^&.”
Under normal circumstances, it’s best for players to express any grievances behind closed doors, in a controlled and private environment where the matter can be solved without pouring the media kerosene onto the escalating fire.
However, these are anything but normal circumstances, which Richarlison is acutely aware of.
His concise tirade condemned Antonio Conte and his coaching staff, expressing his annoyance at playing a bit-part role since recently joining Tottenham for £60 million.
The flamboyant, sometimes petulant, Brazilian picked a perfect time to pour salt in Conte’s gaping wounds.
Agitation and resentment is building at Tottenham and Richarlison’s well-timed comments are but a mere glimpse into the behind-the-scenes ongoings. Supporters aren’t the only ones dissatisfied, with players also feeling the omnipresent disquiet enveloping the club.
Say whatever you like about Richarlison, who has two goals and three assists in 25 Tottenham appearances, mostly of the cameo variety, but at least he wears his heart on his sleeve.
However, while his comments are in some way warranted, his on-field contribution hasn’t forced Conte’s hand.
Two goals in 25 appearances for someone whose primary responsibility is to score goals isn’t the output of a player deserving of first-team minutes.
Unfortunately, Son Heung-min hasn’t exactly thrived either. Yet Son’s numbers are still markedly better, scoring nine times in 35 appearances. Even Dejan Kulusevski is more productive, scoring two and adding six helpers in 25 appearances.
While it was the opportune time to throw a haymaker at his already bedraggled manager, Richarlison has to look in the mirror and take some accountability for his lack of production.
The Brazilian, who entered the scene in the 70th minute, had enough time to impact proceedings last night against AC Milan. Despite Cristian Romero’s senseless sending off, Richarlison had a few moments to change the complexion.
But he, like most of his teammates, appeared uninterested, and resigned to defeat. His negative body language told a disheartening tale.
As a professional purchased for an exorbitant fee, he needs to hold himself to a higher account. Conte can take the blame for a lot of things, but minimizing Richarlison’s playing time shouldn’t be one of them.