SAINTS legends have given their backing to Adam Lallana following the Football Association’s decision not to take action against referee Mark Clattenburg.
Old school hard man Mark Dennis, who played 129 games for Saints during the Eighties, reckons Clattenburg was “completely out of order” for telling Lallana: “You’ve changed since you played for England.”
The FA has taken the same stance as the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL), but Dennis is unimpressed.
The 52 year-old, who lives in Southampton, said: “Clattenburg shouldn’t be getting involved like that, he should be concentrating on his job. “What he’s said to Lallana...goodness me! “How can he think it’s ok for a referee to say that? Adam’s only a young lad, he’s a good kid. Who does Clattenburg think he is, trying to wind him up like that?
“I don’t know Clattenburg personally but he comes across as a young Graham Poll.
“I find it very alarming that he should think it’s ok to say that. One thing I keep seeing now is referees walking away with their arms behind their back after making a decision, instead of talking to the player properly.
“They want to be bigger than the players!”
The latest Clattenburg saga is a far cry from Dennis’s heyday.
“We had a great camaraderie with the likes of Clive Thomas, Roger Milford and Keith Hackett,” he said. “If I was sent off by one of them I would still have a drink with them after the game.
“But refs don’t want to mix with players anymore, they’d rather go and see their assessor. And that’s very, very sad.”
Seventies legend Jim Steele agreed: “Clattenburg has an attitude problem, he needs to be told the fans aren’t there to see him! “We had a good relationship with referees. I was captain in one game when the ref asked why we only had ten players as we were about to kick off.
“I suddenly realised that Mick Channon was watching the 3pm at Newbury – the ref was happy to wait!”
Nineties crowd favourite Franny Benali said: “I fully expected the FA to make the decision it did, they’re very good at backing their own man.
“Things are said in the heat of the game but when we complained to referees they tended to defuse the situation by saying things like we weren’t having the best game ourselves!
“Unfortunately Saints are just going to have to accept this now and move on.”