Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho refused to take questions after his side’s 2-1 defeat by Sunderland, instead “congratulating” referee Mike Dean and referees’ boss Mike Riley.
A disputed penalty decided a game that leaves Chelsea two points off leaders Liverpool, having played a game more.
“His performance was unbelievable,” Mourinho said of Dean.
And he said Riley “had organised things with the referees doing well according to their objectives”.
The Portuguese had to restrain his assistant Rui Faria from confronting Dean after the referee awarded a 79th-minute penalty from which Fabio Borini scored the Black Cats’ winner and he stuck rigidly to a four-part answer after the match.
Having praised both his side and opponents Sunderland, Mourinho turned his attention to Dean and Mike Riley, head of refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Limited, which represents officials.
“Mike Dean’s performance was unbelievable and when referees have unbelievable performances it’s fair to congratulate them,” he added.
“He came here with one objective, the objective to make a fantastic performance and he did that.
“Congratulations to Mike Riley, because he’s the referees’ boss, and what they are doing during the whole season is fantastic, especially in the last couple of months, especially in matches involving the teams that were in the title race – it’s absolutely fantastic.”
Mourinho has twice been sent to the stands this season, for his protestations over Ramires’ red card in March’s defeat by Aston Villa and for persistently questioning Anthony Taylor’s decisions in October’s win over Cardiff.
Earlier this season, he also referred to the Premier League’s “kings of the penalties”, which many took to be a thinly veiled reference to Liverpool, who have won 12 spot-kicks this season, five more than any other side in the top flight.
Mourinho has also had high-profile clashes with officials both during his previous spell at Chelsea and when in charge of Real Madrid, reports the BBC.
He was called an “enemy of football” by UEFA in 2005 after his accusations over referee Anders Frisk’s conduct in Chelsea’s Champions League tie against Barcelona prompted the Swedish official to retire.
In 2011, he suggested that his Real Madrid side’s failure to reach the Champions League final was partly down to a refereeing conspiracy in favour of Barcelona.
Chelsea, who opened the scoring against Sunderland through Samuel Eto’o before Connor Wickham equalised, play Liverpool away in their next Premier League match, but the Reds can increase their advantage to five points before that meeting if they beat Norwich on Sunday.