Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo claimed referee Lee Mason was not good enough for the Premier League after his side’s 2-1 loss at Burnley left them stuck in the bottom half of the table.
Fabio Silva’s first Premier League goal – an 89th-minute penalty – was too little too late for a Wolves side who lacked cutting edge in the continued absence of Raul Jimenez as Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood scored for the hosts.
Wolves were arguably lucky to finish the game with 11 men after a stoppage-time VAR check when Joao Moutinho appeared to kick out at Josh Brownhill but, though that decision went in their favour, Nuno questioned Mason’s fitness to referee in the top flight.
“The referee does not have the quality to whistle a game in the Premier League,” he said on Sky Sports. “This is a problem that we knew – we had Lee Mason before.
“It is not about the crucial mistakes or decisions, it is about the way he handles the game. The players get nervous, too much voices, he whistles by the voices when some players are shouting.
“We are talking about the best competition and clearly he doesn’t have the quality to whistle the game. I’m very disappointed to say this but I would not feel right if I didn’t say it.
“I just don’t want to see him more – that’s what I told him. I hope he doesn’t whistle a game of ours again because all the games we have with Lee Mason are always the same.
“He cannot control the players, the players are constantly arguing – both teams. With all the other referees the game flows, there’s dialogue. He’s just not ready to do it.”
Burnley boss Sean Dyche said it was “impossible” to see how Moutinho had survived the VAR check, but after a second win in three games he was keen to focus on other things.
A happy place, tonight! 😊 pic.twitter.com/Lhyq0TCep4— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) December 21, 2020
“It was a fantastic Burnley night,” he said. “Rain pouring, wind swirling, freezing cold, all the rest of it.
“It was a very good performance and a deserved win. At both ends of the pitch we operated well. We created quality chances. We rarely create 25 or 40 but we created a good number today.
“If we’re being hypercritical we could’ve controlled the game earlier if we’d taken them but on the other hand we saw the game through well and deserved the win.”
Barnes opened the scoring in the 34th minute when he muscled his way in at the far post to reach a cross that Charlie Taylor had run some 60 yards to send over from the left.
It was the 31-year-old’s first goal since November 2019, a 17-match run which came either side of a hernia injury which sidelined him for the latter part of last season.
“I’m pleased for him,” Dyche said. “He’s had a tough run of injuries but he keeps working and he’s been a top player since he’s been here, on and off the pitch.
“It’s hard for strikers when they’re not scoring but I told him the chances would come his way and he would score.”
Victory moves Burnley above Brighton and three points clear of the drop zone as their resurgence continues.
“We’re in a healthy position,” Dyche added. “Our squad has been stretched for a long time. We’re getting there.
“It doesn’t guarantee you anything but if you’ve got them fit it improves the chances of success.”