Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said referee Lee Mason “is not good enough” after his side’s 2-1 defeat by Burnley.
It is the second time Mason has officiated Wolves this season and Nuno says he is a “point of distraction” and “worsens the flow of the game”.
“It is his job. He has to improve, he has to get better,” he told BBC Sport.
“Football is a physical game, a game of contact and referees taking the decisions and being fair. But the referee is not good enough to whistle; Lee Mason is not good enough.
“It isn’t about the major, crucial decisions. It is the way he handles the players – both teams lose their focus, they are always arguing the decision.
“He must improve because the game requires good refereeing and good handling of the game so the players are able to keep on performing.”
Despite Nuno’s frustrations, Burnley boss Sean Dyche suggested Wolves midfielder Joao Moutinho could have been sent off for what he perceived as a stamp late on.
The Wolves manager did not refer to any specific incidents in his criticism of Mason, but added that the referee – who also took charge of his side’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle United in October – “did not have the quality for a Premier League game”.
While it is difficult to statistically measure how well a referee lets a game flow, Mason has given fewer free-kicks for fouls than the majority of Premier League referees this season.
He has awarded an average of 19.8 fouls per game this campaign, with only two referees registering a lower average – although the 26 fouls he gave in Wolves’ loss to Burnley was higher than the overall league average of 22.7 per match this term.
“This is a problem, we know. We had Lee Mason before,” Nuno told Sky Sports. “It is not about the crucial mistake or decisions, it is about how he handles the game.
“The players get nervous – he whistles from the noises from the players. We are talking about the best competition, but he does not have the quality to whistle the game.
“I told him I hope he does not whistle a game of ours again. He cannot control the players; the players are constantly arguing. The other referees let the game flow.”