Andre Marriner: Southampton defender Jose Fonte says referee should have been dropped

The official will take charge of Southampton's game against Newcastle tomorrow

Southampton defender Jose Fonte believes referee Andre Marriner should have been dropped after last weekend's high-profile gaffe.

The official was caught up in a bizarre case of mistaken identity in Chelsea's 6-0 defeat of Arsenal, sending off Kieran Gibbs rather than Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for a deliberate handball.

Marriner apologised for the mistake at Stamford Bridge, which led the Football Association to transfer the sanction to Oxlade-Chamberlain and then overturn the decision as he had not technically prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Despite that, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited decided to give Marriner a chance to get over the mistake in Southampton's Barclays Premier League encounter with Newcastle - a match centre-back Fonte does not think he should be refereeing.

"It is a question for debate, personally my opinion is yes (referees should be held accountable for mistakes)," the Portuguese said. "If we make mistakes as players, we are punished. We get dropped.

"I think obviously some might argue that it is good or not, but I personally think they should get dropped as well and don't referee for a couple of weeks to realise what went wrong.

"I don't know, I just think when the mistake is very, very bad you need to stop and think what can I do better."

Fonte's comments will likely cause ripples, yet he insists the fact Marriner is taking charge is no "big issue" to the players.

"He has a tough job to do," he said. "I am sure he will want to be perfect on Saturday and we players need to focus on our game, so there is not much that we can say about that."

Marriner was one of a number of subjects Fonte spoke about, as he praised former Saints manager, and now Magpies boss, Alan Pardew - "I owe a massive amount to him" - and the man currently at the helm.

Mauricio Pochettino's profile has grown markedly since arriving at St Mary's a relative unknown at the start of 2013, with speculation continuing to mount over his future.

Marseille, Monaco and Getafe have recently been mentioned as possible destinations and Fonte has urged the Southampton board to tie Pochettino down to a new deal.

"It is massive, it is one of the main things," he said.

"We players love to play under him, we love his philosophy, style of play and the way he manages is top. He is definitely one of the best I have played under.

"We look forward to him signing a big long contract so we can relax and enjoy our time with him.

"We have to be honest it is something that we talk about in the dressing room, but when it comes to Saturday and game time we know what we need to do but it is something we talk about."

Many had expected Pochettino to leave the club in January, having previously warned he would follow executive chairman Nicola Cortese out of the club should he leave.

He decided to stay and talk of a meltdown following the divisive Italian's departure did not come to fruition, with the club now moving forwards under a newly-formed board.

"We all know the job Nicola did and he took the club to the Premier League, he did a great job," Fonte said.

"We were sad to see him go, of course, as he had been with us for a long time but the transitional period has happened.

"We have a new chairman now and we have met him and he looks a very, very nice person, competent, so we look forward to working with him and have successful years in front of us.

"We only talked briefly and he said he wants to take the club in the right direction forward like we have been dong lately and he will do his best to achieve that so we wait and see and hopefully we can push this club even higher."

PA

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